Rafa Benitez secured his final return to the Premier League on Wednesday when he was hired as manager of Everton, the local rival of his longtime former club Liverpool.
Everton said Benitez had signed a three-year contract.
The Spanish coach will take over his fourth English team with the highest flight – after Liverpool, Chelsea and Newcastle – and is back at work five months after leaving the Chinese club Dalian Professional for family reasons during the pandemic.
Everton turned to the 61-year-old Benitez after the unexpected departure this month of Carlo Ancelotti, who joined Real Madrid after 18 months at Goodison Park.
This will come as a somewhat controversial appointment given Benitez’s close ties to Liverpool, which he ruled from 2004-10 and led to the Champions League title in 2005. His family continues to live in Merseyside.
Benitez is an experienced, well-traveled and respected coach in charge of leading teams such as Real Madrid, Napoli, Inter Milan and Valencia.
He was especially popular in Newcastle, with whom he was relegated from the Premier League in 2016 and remained to return to the lucrative top division next season. He eventually left after a breakdown in his relationship with owner Mike Ashley.
Everton’s majority shareholder, Farhad Moshiri, Benitez will have a boss who is willing to spend a lot more money than Ashley and has ambitions to bring the club back to the top of English football.
He will leave Goodison, the home of the team from the 1890s, for a new 52,000-seat stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock, potentially from 2024.
Benitez takes over a team that finished 10th last season and did not win a major FA Cup trophy in 1995.