Chinese football is celebrating the arrival of Rafa Benítez who has joined Dalian Yifang for the next two and a half years. "This club has all the components that we were looking for to start a new chapter with the maximum motivation. Among the directors of the club I have found people who value my track record, such as the Chairman of the Wanda Group, Mr. Wang, who is keen to grow this club as much as possible, develop a tremendous project and support this growth with all the necessary resources. We share the same ambition of developing a great project here and leave a legacy in Dalian."
The arrival of Benitez in China is a further evidence of country's investment in strengthening football, an objective also shared by the Spanish manager: "For some years China has achieved drawing the attention of the football world towards the Superleague" said Benítez. "Myself and my coaching team will also try to help achieve this goal by bringing our extensive experience in having success with top European clubs to our work with Dalian. The challenge now is to create the foundations for success both now and for the future. We know it won't be simple as there are some big rivals, but we are confident that there is huge potential and great commitment from the directors of the club to create something great at this club."
After an outstanding career in Spain, England and Italy, the coach from Madrid is excited to open a new chapter and leave European football for the first time. "I have had offers of greater financial significance during my career, but they weren't the project I was looking for," said Benítez. "What I have found at Dalian is an incredible project that has arrived at the perfect time and this has been a major factor in my decision. We've accepted the challenge of leading a superb project with the full backing and confidence of the club’s leadership team."
On his new team and the league in which they will compete Benítez said: "over the last years many players and coaches I know have arrived in China, so I have been able to follow the Superleague as much as possible. It's a competition with its unique qualities so we will have to know how to adapt, but our path forward is clear. Dalian Yifang is an historic club in one of the most football passionate cities in the country, so this is an added attraction. Everyone says how loyal the Dalian fans are and we've witnessed this passion for the club from the very first moment. Without doubt coming to a club with such great supporters was another key in making this commitment."
With 13 titles to his name, Benítez said he was chosen by Dalian Yifang both for his success and also his ability "to construct projects for the midterm, to create the bases necessary for the implementation of a methodology and way of working that will last. If when we leave Dalian the club is stronger than when we arrived, then we will have achieved one of our objectives."
The manager also pointed out that he was keen to learn as much as possible about the "rich and diverse cultural aspects of China and enjoy and lifestyle and culture experience that will add a great deal to my outlook."
Benítez will continue to work with the coaching team he had at Newcastle - Paco de Miguel, Mikel Antía y Antonio Gómez. Joining them will be Darko Matic, the former player from Croatia who has ten years of experience in the Superleague, making him the foreigner with the most appearances in Chinese football.
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