Rafa Benitez is preparing for a homecoming of sorts…
The 63-year-old Spanish professional football manager and former player who most recently managed Premier League club Everton, has reached a preliminary agreement to coach LaLiga side Celta Vigo, the Spanish club has announced.
Benitez has agreed a deal that’ll keep him at the club until June 2026.
“Real Club Celta has reached an agreement in principle with Rafa Benítez so that the Madrid-born coach can lead the team in this very special year and two more campaigns,” a club statement said. “Both parties are confident that the signing will take place in July, coinciding with the start of the team’s preseason.”
Benitez had been out of a job since being dismissed by Everton in January 2022 after just six-and-a-half months in charge.
The former Valencia coach is best known in England for guiding Liverpool to Champions League glory in 2005.
He also guided Chelsea to the Europa League crown in 2013 and Newcastle United to promotion to the Premier League in 2017.
Benitez, who won two LaLiga titles and a UEFA Cup with Valencia, has also managed Inter Milan, Napoli and Chinese Super League side Dalian Professional.
He last coached in Spain after taking over Real Madrid in the summer of 2015, although the Spanish giants relieved him of his duties six months later.
Benitez inherits a Celta team that was saved from relegation on the final day of the season with a 2-1 win over Barcelona at their Balaidos stadium.
The club finished 13th in the table, three points ahead of relegated Real Valladolid.
The 2023-24 season will revolve around the club’s centenary.
Benitez is unlikely to have Celta star Gabriel Veiga next season.
The Spanish midfielder expected to leave this summer.
A reported target of Liverpool, Chelsea and Napoli, Veiga, 21, is under contract until June 2026 but has a €40m release clause that clubs are willing to meet.