After months of rumors, reports, supposition, and belief, the word is finally official: Rafa Benitez is leaving Napoli.
The announcement was made in a press conference Thursday morning -- you know, the one that wasn't supposed to be about Rafa -- with Aurelio thanking Benitez for everything he's done for the club over the last two years.
I thank Rafa for this time together, he won me over straight away in London two years ago and he has confirmed that impression to me since. Two years ago we were 46th in the UEFA rankings, now we are 20th and ahead of Roma, Milan, Inter, Liverpool and Sevilla. We are the only Italian team to have won two trophies, only us and Juventus.
-Aurelio De Laurentiis
Translation source: Football Italia
Napoli won the Coppa Italia in their first season with Rafa Benitez in charge, and through that were able to win the Supercoppa Italiana in December. Things didn't always go so swimmingly otherwise, though, and Napoli are faced with a must-win match against Lazio this weekend to finish third and get a place in the Champions League playoff round -- which Napoli lost in this season after finishing third last year.
Rafa will still be in charge for that crucial match on Sunday, but after that, it's so long and thanks for all the fish. For his part, Benitez seems very appreciative of his time with Napoli.
I would like to thank the President, the club and all the fans because after two years I’m finishing my experience here with Napoli. It’s always sad to leave a job where the people have treated you well from the start and Napoli was like this to me.
My family was key to me making this choice, Aurelio and Napoli have made every effort and we were close to a renewal.
-Source: Football Italia
Benitez is expected to be in Madrid on Monday to become the next manager of Real Madrid in the wake of their dismissal of Carlo Ancelotti earlier this week. We at the Siren's Song thank Rafa for everything he did for Napoli over the last two years, and wish him the best in his future, whatever it may hold.