BEIJING: Rafa Benítez has quit as coach of the Dalian Pro of the Chinese Super League for fear of the impact of the coronavirus in the Far East, stepping away from a contract worth €13.5m per season.

The former Real Madrid, Liverpool and Inter coach, who headed to China after leaving Newcastle two years ago, took his decision two months before the scheduled start of the season.

Benitez said: “Unfortunately, like so many things in the last year, Covid-19 has changed our lives and projects. As of today, both my coaching staff and I will unfortunately no longer train Dalia. The pandemic is still here and supporting our families has been a priority in decision-making.”

Favourite to take over from Benitez if fellow Spaniard Quique Setién.