Liverpool have announced manager Rafael Benitez has left the club by mutual consent after six years in charge.

Benitez, 50, replaced Gerard Houllier as Liverpool manager in June 2004 and guided them to Champions League success the following season.

But last season they made an early exit from the Champions League and only finished seventh in the Premier League.

Managing director Christian Purslow and former manager Kenny Dalglish are to begin the search for a replacement.

The club says there is no timeframe for an appointment, and will make no further comment until a new manager has been appointed.

Benitez said he was “extremely sad” to be leaving the club.

“I’ll always keep in my heart the good times I’ve had here, the strong and loyal support of the fans in the tough times and the love from Liverpool,” he told the club website.

“I have no words to thank you enough for all these years and I am very proud to say that I was your manager.

“Thank you so much once more and always remember: You’ll never walk alone.”

Newly-appointed club chairman Martin Broughton thanked Benitez for his efforts, but said it was time for a new era.

“Rafa will forever be part of Liverpool folklore after bringing home the Champions League following the epic final in Istanbul but after a disappointing season both parties felt a fresh start would be best for all concerned,’ he said.

Source: BBC

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