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Leonardo May Replace Benitez as Inter Milan Coach, Gazzetta Says

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Dec. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Former AC Milan coach Leonardo is the favorite to succeed Rafael Benitez at city rival Inter Milan, according to Italian daily Gazzetta dello Sport.

Inter President Massimo Moratti wants to replace Benitez without having to pay his salary until his contract with the European champion expires in 2012, the newspaper said. The Spaniard joined Inter six months ago after leaving English Premier League team Liverpool.

There’s media speculation in Italy and the U.K. that Benitez is being dismissed by Inter after he criticized the club for failing to back him in the transfer market.

Last night, Moratti told reporters that Benitez was still in his post and said the club had not made contact with any other coach.

The team is seventh in Serie A, 13 points behind leader AC Milan. Inter won the FIFA Club World Cup at the weekend, beating TP Mazembe Englebert 3-0 in the final in Abu Dhabi.

Brazil’s Leonardo, named AC Milan coach in May 2009 after Carlo Ancelotti stepped down, left the post in May this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter-Joseph Hegarty in London at phegarty@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Elser celser@bloomberg.net

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