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Inter appoint Brazilian Leonardo as new coach

Former AC Milan coach Leonardo will take charge of city rivals Inter.
Former AC Milan coach Leonardo will take charge of city rivals Inter.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Brazilian Leonardo to take charge at Inter Milan in succession to Rafael Benitez
  • Leonardo will be the fifth man to have coached both the Milan clubs
  • Benitez was sacked despite leading Inter to the Club World Cup
  • Leonardo was in Brazil's 1994 World Cup winning squad

(CNN) -- Inter Milan have named Leonardo as their new coach in succession to the sacked Rafael Benitez.

The appointment was confirmed in a statement on the Italian club's official website.

"Leonardo has just signed a contract with Inter until June 30, 2012," it read.

"Everybody at Inter wishes to welcome Leonardo. He will take charge from December 29 when training resumes. The club will make an announcement over the next few days regarding his official presentation.

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"We are sure that with his class, experience and winning mentality the club and the team can achieve the results that everyone at Inter and all the Inter fans want to see."

With his class, experience and winning mentality the club and the team can achieve the results that everyone at Inter wants to see
--Inter Milan club statement
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Leonardo, 41, was a member of Brazil's 1994 World Cup winning squad, but spent a season in charge of Inter's bitter city rivals AC Milan after taking over from Carlo Ancelotti, who went to English Premier League Chelsea.

He spent four years with Milan as a player and then seven as part of the coaching staff, before succeeding Ancelotti.

His spell in charge saw them finish third in Serie A, but he reportedly fell out with owner Silvio Berlusconi.

Former Valencia and Liverpool boos Benitez lasted just six months at Inter, taking them to the Club World Cup and the Italian Super Cup, but they trail in seventh in Serie A, which is led by Milan.

Benitez, who succeeded Jose Mourinho, paid the price for outspoken comments at a press conference in Abu Dhabi on Saturday following their Club World Cup final victory against TP Mazembe.

He complained that he needed more funds to augment a squad which has been badly-hit by injury, but his remarks served only to alienate the club's president Massimo Moratti.

Confirmation that he would be leaving the San Siro came on Thursday, with Moratti indicating that his replacement would be announced after Christmas.

In the event, Inter have moved more swiftly and Leonardo has the twin task of moving them up the Italian standings and their defense of the European Champions League.

They have a repeat of last season's final against Bayern Munich in their last 16 tie on February 23 and March 15.

Inter captain Javier Zanetti approved of the choice of Leonardo, who had been widely tipped for the role.

"I know Leonardo well. He is a very intelligent person, someone who is always on the ball," Zanetti told AFP.

"He has a lot to give as a coach thanks to the experiences he gathered as a player and as a man."

Leonardo will be the fifth man to coach both Milan clubs.