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RAFA BENITEZ AND CELTIC

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RAFA BENITEZ has quit as manager of Chinese Super League side Dalian Professional with a year still to run on his contract.

The former Liverpool boss and the club scrapped his contract by mutual consent – and sparked speculation he could be on Celtic’s radar.

Neil Lennon has struggled with the champions in their faltering campaign that saw them drop 23 points behind Steven Gerrard’s side who overcame Ross County 5-0 at Ibrox this afternoon.

Benitez is now up for grabs amid reports the Parkhead side are planning an overhaul on the management front in the summer.

The Spaniard had a season remaining on his lucrative £12million-a-year contract at the club he joined in July 2019, shortly after he left Newcastle.

Benitez insisted he made the decision partly due to concerns about the health and well-being of his family amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The much-respected gaffer said in a statement: “Unfortunately, like so many things in the last year, Covid-19 has changed our lives and our projects. From today, both my coaching staff and I will sadly no longer be coaching Dalian.

“The pandemic is still here, for all of us, and supporting our families has been a priority when making this decision.”

In 2019, the 60-year-old coach was linked with a possible switch to the Hoops before his move to China.

Later, he told The Athletic: “I was aware of some interest, but we didn’t have any official approach. I was still under contract at Newcastle, so we couldn’t even consider this option.”

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