Everton set to appoint Rafael Benitez as manager after he agrees three-year deal


Benitez has managed Liverpool, Chelsea and Newcastle United in the Premier League

Everton are close to confirming the appointment of ex-Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez as successor to Carlo Ancelotti after he agreed a three-year deal.

The contentious arrival of the 61-year is now seen as a formality after he impressed Everton owner Farhad Moshiri in several rounds of talks.

Benitez won the Champions League and the FA Cup in a six-year spell at Anfield.

Ancelotti resigned in early June to return to Real Madrid.

In a historic and controversial move, Benitez will join William Edward Barclay, who was part of the original foundation of Everton in the 1890s and later the breakaway Liverpool club, as the only men to cross the city divide to manage both clubs.

The formal announcement is all that remains to seal an appointment that has brought a mixed reaction from Everton fans, after Benitez caused a furore by calling Liverpool’s arch-rivals a “small club” after a goalless derby at Anfield in February 2007.

Benitez insisted he made “a mistake” and he was referring to the approach of David Moyes’ team rather than Everton as a club, but his remarks have not been forgotten by many on the blue half of Merseyside.

Several banners were hung up outside Goodison Park protesting at Everton’s move for Benitez, while Merseyside Police are investigating a banner reading “We Know Where You Live – Don’t Sign” aimed at Benitez – although it was actually left outside the wrong house.

Former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo was the early favourite after interest from Everton but Benitez has been in pole position for a fortnight after staging several rounds of talks.

Benitez, who has kept a home in the area even after leaving Liverpool in 2010, has been keen to return to the Premier League after leaving Newcastle United in summer 2019 before a spell in China with Dalian Professional.

He spent 18 months in charge of the Chinese Super League club before leaving in January.

Benitez is no stranger to walking into a potentially hostile environment after the reception he received when he took over as Chelsea’s interim manager in November 2012 following a long, intense rivalry when he was in charge of Liverpool.

The Spaniard was roundly jeered when he took charge for his first game at home to Manchester City at Stamford Bridge – but was a resounding success, winning the Europa League and guiding them to third place in the Premier League.