Reports: Rafa Benitez Close To Replacing Carlo Ancelotti As Real Madrid Coach

Rafael “Rafa” Benitez could be less than seven days away from finally landing his sweetheart gig.

Benitez leads the list of candidates to replace Carlo Ancelotti as Real Madrid’s head coach and is in advanced discussions over the job with the Spanish giant, Sky Sports and the BBC reported Tuesday.

Benitez, 55, currently coaches Napoli, but his contract expires after this season. Real Madrid could announce Benitez’s appointment as head coach early next week.

Real Madrid schooled Benitez as a player and coach. After failing to break into Real Madrid’s first team, Benitez coached the club’s youth teams during his apprenticeship and coached the “B” team from 1993 to 1995.

Benitez pursued his coaching career away from Real Madrid and largely has been successful in the last decade-and-a-half. Benitez won two La Liga (Spanish first division) titles and a UEFA Cup with Valencia. Benitez next stopped at Liverpool where he guided the Reds to the UEFA Champions League title in 2005 and the FA Cup in 2006.

After leaving Liverpool in 2010, Benitez bounced back and forth between Italian and English jobs. He helped Inter Milan win the 2010 FIFA Club World Cup during his short, ill-fated reign with the Italian club. He later guided Chelsea to the UEFA Europa League title in 2013. Benitez won the Coppa Italia (Italian Cup) with Napoli in 2014.

Throughout his travels, Real Madrid always remained in Benitez’s heart. He referred to Real Madrid as his “sweetheart” in a 2013 interview and said he dreamed of coaching the club. The two finally could reunite soon.

Rafa Benitez dreams of coaching Real Madrid or Spain >>

Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@BBCSport

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