• Premier League

Benitez: I played part in Sterling's emergence

ESPN staff
November 14, 2012
Rafa Benitez has claimed some of the credit for Liverpool's recent youth products

Former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has revealed his pride at seeing the quality of the club's latest group of youngsters, claiming some of the credit for the academy's recent successes.

The likes of Raheem Sterling, Suso and Andre Wisdom have all been given their chance by current Reds manager Brendan Rodgers this season, earning plaudits for their seamless integration into the first team squad.

And Benitez, who signed Sterling - set to make his first senior England appearance on Wednesday - and persuaded Suso to move to Merseyside, believes he put the infrastructure in place to allow young players to flourish at Anfield.

Benitez left the club in the summer of 2010, but feels much of what he implemented at academy level before his departure is still in existence at the club over two years later.

"I felt that we had a project in my last year in charge," Benitez said. "We tried to control the academy a bit more.

"We changed the philosophy and style of play. How we were coaching and everything was in one direction.

"Now you can see Raheem Sterling, you can see Suso, [Andre] Wisdom [and] all of these players coming through, so I think that is a good thing for the club and for the future."

Benitez has been out of work since departing Inter Milan in December 2010, following an unhappy six-month spell in charge at the Italian club. The Spaniard is keen to return to the dugout, but will only do so for a team that he believes can challenge for the biggest honours in the game.

Benitez would prefer that to be in the Premier League, but would consider offers throughout Europe.

"I am waiting for the right offer and you have to be watching games all of the time and analysing them," he said. "The idea is to challenge for trophies. So I would have to manage a top side and in a good country that you can compete in, and the football would be professional and serious.

"It's not just to find a job. It's to find a club that can compete and can do things in the proper way.

"The priority could be the Premier League because my family is there and I have been there for years. But I like Spain, I like the [German] Bundesliga, I like Italy. So a lot of countries can be good and, again, it depends on the offers."

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