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Page last updated at 19:06 GMT, Friday, 24 December 2010

Leonardo replaces Rafael Benitez as Inter Milan coach

Inter Milan manager Leonardo
Leonardo's previous managerial experience came at AC Milan

Inter Milan have appointed 41-year-old former AC Milan boss Leonardo to succeed Rafael Benitez as coach.

Brazilian World Cup winner Leonardo will take up the reins on 29 December and his contract runs until June 2012.

Benitez was sacked after six months in the job after asking the Inter board to back him in the transfer market.

"We believe Leonardo has the class and experience of a champion and his mentality will get the team together to get results," Inter's website read.

Leonardo's only previous managerial experience came at Inter's rivals AC Milan last season.

Inter appointed Benitez after former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho moved to Real Madrid having guided the Nerazzurri to the Champions League, Serie A and Italian Cup Treble.

The Italian giants turned to Benitez after his six-year reign as Liverpool manager came to an end in June.

But, despite winning the Italian Super Cup and the Fifa Club World Cup this season, the side have not found things as straightforward in the league.

And Benitez's relationship with Inter president Massimo Moratti became strained when the Spaniard issued an ultimatum over transfer funds after last weekend's Fifa Club World Cup triumph.

When Inter entertain second-place Napoli in Serie A after the winter break on 6 January, Leonardo will take charge of a side seventh in the table, 13 points adrift of leaders AC Milan.

Leonardo's first meeting with his former employers is scheduled for 3 April.

AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani admitted on Thursday that it would be strange to see Leonardo in the blue and black of his club's local rivals.

"I do not know what my reaction would be," Galliani stated.

"He certainly has an important history with Milan. He made a career with AC Milan - first as a player, then as a coach and a manager."

In addition to attempting to bridge that gap in Serie A, one of the new Inter coach's main tasks will be attempting to retain the Champions League title, starting with a last-16 clash against Bayern Munich, the side they beat in the 2010 final in May.

Moratti had indicated that no new appointment would be made until after Christmas, "from the 27th of December onwards".

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see also
Inter Milan sack manager Benitez
23 Dec 10 |  Europe
TP Mazembe 0-3 Inter Milan
18 Dec 10 |  Football
Inter reach Club World Cup final
16 Dec 10 |  Europe
Africa's TP Mazembe make history
14 Dec 10 |  African
Inter slump to defeat at Bremen
07 Dec 10 |  Europe
Bologna frustrate Benitez's Inter
30 Aug 10 |  Europe
Benitez appointed Inter manager
10 Jun 10 |  Europe
Rafa reborn
01 Nov 10 |  Europe

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