Benitez to take charge of Dalian Yifang

SHANGHAI (AFP) – Champions League-winning manager Rafael Benitez said yesterday that he will join Chinese top-tier side Dalian Yifang, just days after his three-year reign at English club Newcastle United came to an end.

“After a long path… We start a new challenge! I’m happy to begin this new project with Dalian Yifang,” the Spaniard wrote on his verified Twitter account.

Benitez, who guided Liverpool to the UEFA Champions League crown in 2005 and has managed at European giants like Inter, Chelsea, and Real Madrid, parted ways with Newcastle last week.

The 59-year-old becomes the latest big-name foreign manager to try his luck in the Chinese Super League (CSL), which have included the likes of Brazil’s World Cup-winning coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, and Italian legend Fabio Cannavaro, who remains in charge at CSL power Guangzhou Evergrande.

Dalian Yifang, who are currently in joint 10th place in the CSL, also confirmed his appointment on social media.

Benitez was a hugely popular figure at Newcastle after leading the club to promotion in his first full season and stabilising Newcastle in the Premier League over the past two years.

Unconfirmed reports have said previously that Benitez had been offered a contract worth GBP12 million (USD15 million) per year by Dalian Yifang.