Everton have appointed former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez as their new manager on a three-year contract.
The 61-year-old Spaniard succeeds Carlo Ancelotti, who resigned in early June to return to Real Madrid
“I am delighted to be joining Everton,” said Benitez.
“I believe this is a club that is going places. I’m determined to play a big part in helping this great club achieve its ambitions.”
Benitez last managed in the Premier League at Newcastle United before leaving in June 2019.
He moved to China to coach Dalian Professional FC and left them in January after 18 months in charge.
Everton say Benitez “will commence work with the squad when they return for pre-season training from 5 July”.
They added that he was given the job “after a robust and wide-reaching recruitment process over the last three weeks – a process which has included multiple interviews with several candidates”.
Everton majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri said: “Rafa impressed us greatly with his knowledge and experience but, above all, the passion and hunger he showed to join our club.
“We are appointing Rafa because we believe he will bring success to our club and to Evertonians. To put it simply – we need to be competing at the top end of the league and to be winning trophies.
“Rafa is a proven winner with huge experience in coaching internationally and we have secured the best man to achieve that for us.”
The controversial move is sure to generate passionate reactions from Everton fans with Benitez just the second person since William Edward Barclay to cross the city divide to manage both Merseyside clubs.
They were already plenty opposed to the prospect of his managing Everton who he famously called a “small club” following a goalless derby at Anfield in February 2007.
Benitez tried to walk back the comments insisting he made “a mistake” and was referring to the approach of David Moyes’ team rather than Everton as a club, but his remarks have not been forgotten by many on the blue half of Merseyside.
Several banners were hung up outside Goodison Park protesting at Everton’s move for Benitez, while Merseyside Police are investigating a banner reading “We Know Where You Live – Don’t Sign” aimed at Benitez – although it was actually left outside the wrong house.
The former Napoli and Real Madrid boss joins an Everton side that finished 10th in the Premier League under Ancelotti last season.
Everton begin their 2021-22 season at home to Southampton on 14 August.
The club will confirm the staff who will join Duncan Ferguson and Alan Kelly as part of Benitez’s backroom team in the coming days.