Rafa Benitez bids goodbye to Napoli, raising the possibility he will move to Real Madrid

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Napoli coach Rafael Benitez gives instructions to his players during a Serie A soccer match between Juventus and Napoli at the Juventus stadium, in Turin, Italy, Saturday, May 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Massimo Pinca)


ROME — Rafa Benitez bids goodbye to Napoli on Thursday, raising the possibility he will move to Real Madrid.

Benitez announced that Sunday's match against Lazio will be his last with the southern club.

"It's always sad to leave a place where people treat you well," Benitez said.

The Spanish coach added that being away from his family for two years was too much, and that he made the decision together with his wife a few weeks ago.

"It was clear that my (time) here was finished and that I needed to look for something else for the future," Benitez said, without discussing his future plans.

Madrid fired Carlo Ancelotti on Monday as the Spanish club again showed it won't tolerate a season without a major trophy.

Benitez is a former youth coach at Madrid.

The Napoli-Lazio match will determine the third-place finisher in Serie A — which comes with a berth in Champions League qualifying.

"I want to leave with the squad in the Champions League," Benitez said.

Earlier this month, Napoli was eliminated from the Europa League semifinals by Ukrainian side Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk.

In December, Napoli beat Juventus in a penalty shootout for the Italian Super Cup title.

Last season, Benitez's first in charge at Napoli, he led the club to the Italian Cup title and third in Serie A.

Benitez has also coached Valencia, Liverpool, Inter Milan and Chelsea.

Current Sampdoria coach Sinisa Mihajlovic is considered the leading choice to replace Benitez at Napoli.

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