Everton have confirmed the appointment of Rafa Benitez as their new manager.
The Toffees had been without a head coach since Carlo Ancelotti departed for Real Madrid at the beginning of the month – something Ancelotti had ruled out earlier in the season.
Since then Everton have been linked with a host of names, including Nuno Espirito Santo, Graham Potter and Christophe Galtier. More recently, Benitez has emerged as the frontrunner and his arrival on a three-year contract has now been confirmed.
Benitez said: “I am delighted to be joining Everton. Throughout this process I have been greatly impressed by the ambition shown by the senior representatives at the Club and their desire to bring success to this historic club.
“I believe this is a club that is going places. I’m determined to play a big part in helping this great Club achieve its ambitions.”
Benitez had been out of work since leaving Chinese Super League side Dalian Professional in January 2021. Prior to that he enjoyed a successful stint at Newcastle United. During his time with the Magpies he secured their return to the Premier League before establishing them as a lower mid-table club.
Benitez’s appointment is likely to be controversial with Everton fans thanks to his Liverpool connections. He managed the Reds between 2004 and 2010, enjoying plenty of success. The highlight of his reign was leading his side to victory in the 2005 Champions League final.
While at Anfield he attracted particular ire from Evertonians when he called them a “small club” after a Merseyside Derby game in 2007.
Benitez has a talented squad at his disposal who have underachieved in recent years. Last season was particularly disappointing. After an electric start they tailed off badly and eventually finished tenth, below newly promoted Leeds United.