Rafael Benitez Named New Manager of Everton

Rafael Benitez is taking on a new role…

The 61-year-old Spanish professional football manager and former player, a former Liverpool boss, has been appointed as new manager of Merseyside rivals Everton.

Rafael Benitez

Benitez has put pen to paper on a three-year deal with the Premier League club and replaces Carlo Ancelotti, who made a shock return to Real Madrid on June 1.

Earlier this month, Benitez was in talks to take charge at Goodison Park but faced competition from Roberto Martinez, Eddie Howe and Nuno Espirito Santo for the vacant position, according to ESPN.

“You can see the ambition is there,” Benitez told Everton TV. “This club is growing.

“For me, it is about bringing the winning mentality, being competitive, so everything is in place on the pitch and off the pitch. I love the passion of the people behind the club. I know the city, I know Scousers, I know what it means for every fan here to compete and to have the chance to win.

“To come to Everton is something that means a lot, for sure. You can see the ambition of the owner, of the board, everybody wants to be better and to go to the new stadium with a massive boost. I like to compete. I like to win. I came from the academy at Real Madrid [as a young player and coach], and the winning mentality is already there.

“We [Benitez and the coaching staff] have won 13 titles because we have this mentality and I still want to win. And I have come to Everton because I liked the idea to be competitive again — and to have the chance to compete in every game, to compete against anyone.”

Everton’s majority shareholder, Farhad Moshiri, added: “Rafa impressed us greatly with his knowledge and experience but, above all, the passion and hunger he showed to join our club. We are appointing Rafa because we believe he will bring success to our Club and to Evertonians.

“To put it simply — we need to be competing at the top end of the league and to be winning trophies. Rafa is a proven winner with huge experience in coaching internationally and we have secured the best man to achieve that for us.”

The appointment is a controversial one, as Benitez spent six years at Anfield, winning the Champions LeagueFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup during his spell.

During his time at Liverpool, Benitez described Everton as a “small club,” but he has since claimed that his remarks were misinterpreted.

It is not the first time Benitez’s appointment has caused controversy after he temporarily took charge of Liverpool’s rivals Chelsea in 2012.

The Spaniard has been out of work since leaving Chinese team Dalian Professional in January.

Benitez has an impressive track record of winning trophies during his managerial career after leading Valencia to two La Liga titles and a UEFA Super Cup.

He also won the FIFA Club World Cup with Inter Milan, the Coppa Italia with Napoli and the Europa League at Chelsea. Benitez has also managed Real Madrid and Newcastle United.

Everton will be hopeful Benitez can help the club lift their first major trophy since 1995.

Pepe Reina Joins Aston Villa on Short-Term Loan

Pepe Reina is headed to the United Kingdom…

The 37-year-old Spanish footballer and former Liverpool goalkeeper has joined Aston Villa on a short-term deal from AC Milan.

Pepe Reina

Reina, who has also played for BarcelonaVillarrealBayern Munich and Napoliand was part of the Spain squad that won the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championshipin 2008 and 2012, was mainly a back-up to Milan No. 1 Gianluigi Donnarumma during his time at the San Siro.

Reina spent eight years at Liverpool between 2005 and 2013, winning an FA Cup, a Football LeagueCup, a FA Community Shieldand a UEFA Super Cup.

He ended his Liverpool career with a yearlong loan move to Napoli before permanently joining Bayern in 2014. He lasted just one year at the Allianz Arenabefore returning to Napoli for three years.

Reina made his international debut against Uruguayin 2005 but spent much of his career with Spain as the second choice goalkeeper to Iker Casillas.

Villa were keen to sign a goalkeeper after their first choice Tom Heatonsustained a season-ending injury.

Paris Saint-Germain Signs Goalkeeper Keylor Navas from Real Madrid

Keylor Navasis headed to the City of Light

Paris Saint-Germain has completed the signing of the 32-year-old Costa Rican professional footballer and goalkeeper from Real Madrid on a permanent basis with Alphonse Areola moving in the opposite direction.

Keylor Navas

Navas established himself as the Spanish giants’ first-choice goalkeeper after his arrival in 2014 from Levanteand helped Real Madrid to three consecutive Champions Leaguetitles between 2016 and 2018.

Navas said in a tweet: “If God changes our plan it is because he has something better in mind. I hope to begin a new path and make history with PSG.”

Navas also won the La LigaSupercopa de Espana, two UEFA Super Cupsand three FIFA Club World Cuptitles but has since fallen to second in the pecking order behind Thibaut Courtois.

He joins PSG as No. 1 ahead of Sergio Rico and fellow summer signing Marcin Bulka — a move that ends years of uncertainty over the goalkeeping hierarchy.

Navas, who underwent his medical in Spain, should debut for the French champions at home to Strasbourg in Ligue 1 after the international break.

He’ll also immediately come up against his former employers Madrid in the opening match of PSG’s Champions League Group A campaign at Parc des Princes.

Areola moves to the Bernabeu on a one-year loan deal with no option to purchase.

Veron Comes Out of Retirement & Officially Re-Signs with Estudiantes

Juan Sebastian Veron is ready to prove age is nothing but a number…

The 41-year-old Argentine retired footballer is back in the game after officially re-signing for Estudiantes de la Plata, two years after hanging up his boots.

Juan Sebastian Veron

The former Manchester United and Argentina midfielder quit playing in 2014 to become chairman of his boyhood club, having won 73 caps for his country, while he also played Chelsea, Inter Milan and Lazio.

Veron had promised to play in the 2017 Copa Libertadores if supporters bought 65 percent of the tickets for the club’s new stadium and has now made good on that pledge.

He has signed an 18-month contract, meaning he will be 43 years old when the deal expires. He will be paid a minimal salary, all of which will be “donated for the development of the club.”

His first game back in Estudiantes colors is set to be against Bayer Leverkusen in the Florida Cup on January 8 after he spent the last few months working on his fitness.

“He told us he wants to return, that from January he will return as a player,” midfielder Israel Damonte told La Oral Deportiva last month. “He will play from January for the tournament [league] and Copa [Libertadores in 2017].”

Veron won Apertura titles with Estudiantes in 2006 and 2010, and the Copa Libertadores in 2009 — his second spell with the club.

In European football, he won the UEFA Cup and Coppa Italia with Parma in 1998-99, before going on to lift the Serie A and Coppa Italia double with Lazio in 1999-2000, as well as the UEFA Super Cup in 2009. He then won the Premier League with Manchester United in 2002-03 and another Italian double with Inter in 2005-06. He also won the Coppa Italia with Inter in 2004-05.

Messi Records His 400th Goal for FC Barcelona

Lionel Messi is making history once again…

The 27-year-old Argentine soccer star reached another career milestone in an FC Barcelona uniform when he notched his 400th goal for the team in Saturday’s La Liga meeting with Valencia at the Camp Nou.

Lionel Messi

Messi completed his fourth ton for the Blaugrana with the very last kick of the match, latching onto a long ball over the top and landing the milestone after tucking home the rebound after his initial shot was saved by Diego Alves.

It was Messi’s 278th league goal for the Primera Division leaders, with a further 75 coming in the Champions League, 32 in the Copa Del Rey, 10 in the Spanish Super Cup, four in the Club World Cup as well as one strike in the UEFA Super Cup.

Messi had become Barca‘s all-time leading goalscorer in March last year when he exceeded Paulino Alcantara‘s 369 goals for the club scored between 1912 and 1927.

The Argentina forward, who has won the Ballon d’Or on four occasions, also holds the record for leading goalscorer in a single La Liga season, with 50 in 2011-12.

Among a host of other records, he’is also the joint record scorer in European Cup history on 75 goals, level with Cristiano Ronaldo. And he’s also tied with Ronaldo for the most La Liga hat tricks, with both forwards having scored 24.