Benitez looking to next year after ‘very strange’ CSL season

SHANGHAI (AFP) – Rafa Benitez took aim at the revamped Chinese Super League (CSL), saying that it made “no sense”, but the revered Spanish coach is already planning for another season with Dalian Pro.

The former Liverpool and Real Madrid manager concluded a difficult campaign with a 4-0 defeat as Dalian finished 12th of 16 teams in the CSL, which was reformatted and delayed by five months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“This season, with the format of the competition, it doesn’t matter where you finish, so it’s just so strange that I don’t care,” the 60-year-old, who guided Liverpool to Champions League glory in 2005, said, referring to Dalian’s final league spot. Benitez took over at Dalian in July last year and reportedly has a contract worth GBP12 million a year after tax until December 2021.

That would mean another campaign in China and despite frequent reports of interest from the Premier League, Benitez appears set to stay put.

“It’s just a season that you have to finish… and we have to start thinking of the next one because this one was very, very special, very strange, and you can’t evaluate and you can’t consider anything because the format of the competition was totally different from a normal one,” he said.