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Apr 21, 2013

Dalglish hails Benitez's legacy

Kenny Dalglish believes Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is reaping the benefits of Rafael Benitez's time in charge at the club.

• Blog: A 'Plan B' for Liverpool
• Preview: Liverpool v Chelsea

Benitez will return to Anfield for the first time as a visiting manager on Sunday when he takes his Chelsea team to Merseyside for a Premier League meeting.

The Spaniard, who guided Liverpool to the 2005 Champions League title and the 2007 final during his six years at Anfield, admitted on Friday that it would be an emotional day for him.

And Dalglish, whose association with the club stretches back 36 years, credits Benitez for a restructuring of the academy set-up that has allowed Rodgers to field a number of youngsters this season.

Teenagers Raheem Sterling, Andre Wisdom and Suso have both had runs in the side under Rodgers, while Jerome Sinclair became the youngest first-team player in the club's history when he played in the 2-1 Capital One Cup victory at West Brom in September, aged 16 years and six days.

Benitez was reported recently as saying that he wanted to return to Liverpool as manager one day, but Dalglish does not believe he intended to put any pressure on Rodgers.

"I think Rafa was probably misquoted a little while ago when he said he would go back to Liverpool," Dalglish told the Daily Mirror.

"He said he would go back to Merseyside because that is where his wife and kids are. I don't think he was trying to put any pressure on the Reds to give him a job or to try to discomfort Brendan in any way.

"In fact, Rafa's respect and appreciation for Liverpool and all the people at the club is there for everyone to see. His legacy at the club is secure already. He won the Champions League in Istanbul and he got the club to another final in the competition as well.

"And the other thing he deserves great credit for is the changes he made to the club's youth academy. Four years ago he brought in Pep Segura and Rodolfo Borrell to coach the kids - and Frank McParland to direct the academy.

"There is a greater strength in depth at the academy now than there has ever been before and that is down to some of the changes Rafa implemented.

"Those changes have had far-reaching effects and they helped Brendan at the start of this season when he was able to draw on the talents of Raheem Sterling and others."

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