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Pellegrino plays down Benitez comparisons

SoccerNews in English Premier League, La Liga 6 Jun 2012

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Mauricio Pellegrino has been unveiled as the new Valencia head coach, as they look to close the gap on Real Madrid and Barcelona in La Liga.

The Valencia top job is Pellegrino’s first head-coaching position, with the Argentine having worked under Rafael Benitez at Liverpool and then Inter Milan.

The former Valencia defender, who played under Benitez at the Spanish club, paid tribute to his former mentor but denied he would be a carbon copy.

“I learned a lot dealing with him,” Pellegrino said.

“I already thanked him personally for it but I’m not Rafa, I am a different person.

“It will be a different message to the players.”

Pellegrino succeeds Unai Emery as head coach and expressed his excitement at the challenge of top-tier football management.

“When I arrived here my days here as a player came to my mind, but now I start a new experience as a coach,” Pellegrino said.

“Myself and my staff, we are proud to be here, happy and sure that we will build an important team.”

Valencia finished third in La Liga last season behind Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Pellegrino will be expected to help Valencia challenge the top two clubs in Spain next season after they finished 30 points behind second-placed Barcelona in 2011/12.

But Pellegrino’s first task may be to find a replacement for Jordi Alba as the 23-year-old left-sided player has reportedly been targeted by both Barcelona and Manchester United.

“Jordi Alba was one of our best players last season,” Pellegrino said.

“You just have to look at his stats but the reality of this club is that it is an important offer and should be listened to.

“The club has shown in the last seasons that they can sign quality and grow young players to replace important losses.

“If Jordi finally leaves the club it would be a shame, in football terms, but I am sure the club is already looking for alternatives.”

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