|Benitez had been on shaky ground after his team slumped to seventh in the Italian league [Reuters]|
Inter Milan have confirmed that Rafael Benitez, the team’s coach, has left the club after spending just six months in charge of the Italian side.
“Inter and Rafael Benitez announce that, mutually and with satisfaction on each side, they have reached an agreement for the early resolution of his contract,” said a statement on Thursday from the Serie A team, after days of talks between the club and the former Liverpool manager.
Appointed in June after Jose Mourinho, who won three Serie A titles with the club, left for Real Madrid, Benitez was on shaky ground after his team had slumped to seventh in the Italian league, 13 points off the pace set by leaders and bitter rivals AC Milan.
The side has also largely failed to impress in the UEFA Champions League group stages, despite progressing to the knockout rounds.
Benitez had appeared to have secured his job on Saturday after his team’s victory in the World Club Championship.
However, the Spaniard lashed out at the club’s board and ownership in post-match comments, threatening to discuss his future with his agent if signings were not made to his satisfaction in the January transfer window.
Benitez directly criticised Massimo Moratti, Inter Milan’s owner, saying he was promised transfers into the club during the closed-season that did not materialise.
He added that the club had recruited five first-team players under Mourinho last season, but that no signings had been made for him.
Moratti, not known to suffer criticism lightly, is said to have reacted angrily to the comments.
“I’m sorry for the end of the relationship with Benitez, but the separation became inevitable,” Moratti told journalists.
“I want to thank everyone for the support received during my experience at Inter and on behalf of my staff I personally want to thank the players, employees and fans of the club who had confidence in us,” Benitez, who had a two-year deal, said in a statement.
“It is my duty to thank president Massimo Moratti for having chosen me to coach Inter.”
Inter do not play again until January 6, giving them a chance to appoint a new coach during the winter off-season.
Luciano Spalletti, the coach of Zenit St Petersburg, has been tipped by media and bookmakers to suceed Benitez, but the Russian champions have confirmed that the former AS Roma boss will remain with them.
Leonardo, the former AC Milan coach, is now the new favourite to take over at Inter, with former club goalkeeper Walter Zenga also mentioned in connection with the job.
Moratti said that all of the names circulating regarding the job were “interesting”.