Internazionale confirm Benitez tops shortlist to follow Mourinho

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The Independent Online

Internazionale president Massimo Moratti has confirmed Rafael Benitez is the number one choice to take over the reins of the European champions. Speculation has been rife that Benitez is to be Jose Mourinho's successor since the Spaniard left Liverpool by mutual consent on Thursday, with Italian media expecting a deal to be completed by tomorrow.

And Moratti has confirmed they are set for talks with Benitez over the next few days."I can only speak well of him because he is very good," Moratti said in an interview with Corriere dello Sport."Yes, that is the direction and in the next few days we will decide.It's also important that he has always done well in Europe, to continue to get joy from the Champions League is our aim."

Inter have been on the lookout for a new coach since Mourinho's departure for Real Madrid after the former Chelsea coach had steered the Nerazzurri to a treble of the Champions League, Serie A title and the Italian Cup.

Benitez's six years at Anfield ended following a difficult season in which the Reds finished seventh in the Premier League and failed to get past the Champions League group stages. The 50-year-old has enjoyed success in Europe, notably in 2005 when he steered Liverpool to the Champions League trophy with a memorable victory over Inter's bitter rivals Milan despite trailing 3-0 at half-time.

Benitez is also the coach who has inflicted the most number of defeats on Mourinho, a fact of which Moratti is well aware. The Inter chief added: "He beat him five times, right? It is a sign that he is prepared, that he works well and that he doesn't make mistakes in important games."

Reports suggest Inter director Marco Branca is on his way to Sardinia to meet with Benitez who is currently on holiday on the Italian island.

Inter defender Maicon insists he wants to remain at San Siro despite expressing his desire to move to Real Madrid just two days ago. However, Maicon is adamant his comments have been misconstrued. The Brazil international said. "I never said I wanted to go to Real Madrid. I only said that, if I had to leave, the club where I would want to go to would be Real Madrid."

The highly rated 28-year-old has been heavily linked with a move to Real in the wake of Mourinho's switch to the Bernabeu.

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