Benitez: I 'admire' Liverpool star Raheem Sterling; could they reunite at Real Madrid?

Rafael Benitez has admitted that he 'admires' Liverpool forward Raheem Sterling.

Rafael Benitez has been appointed Real Madrid manager today - and in his opening press conference, he admitted his admiration for Liverpool star Raheem Sterling, as reported by the BBC.

Benitez has just left Italian side Napoli having failed to take the club into the Champions League, but has certainly landed on his feet having been announced as the new Real Madrid manager, replacing Carlo Ancelotti in the Santiago Bernabeu hotseat.

It's a dream job for the Spaniard, who how has the unenviable task of keeping the notoriously difficult to please Real Madrid fans happy - and Benitez will be looking to make additions to his squad over the summer in order to close the gap to Barcelona in La Liga.

One potential target could be Liverpool star Sterling, who Benitez signed as Reds manager back in 2010, just months before leaving Anfield for Inter Milan.

Sterling, 19, has emerged as one of the brightest young English talents, but appears to be heading for the Liverpool exit door after telling the BBC that he has turned down a new contract to stay on Merseyside, with the Liverpool Echo revealing that Sterling has indeed told Reds boss Brendan Rodgers that he wants to leave the club.

Now, with Benitez in charge of Real Madrid, the natural assumption is to ask whether he could reunite with Sterling in the Spanish capital - and Benitez kept his cards close to his chest about that prospect.

"We admire Raheem, that's no secret - but he is not one of our players so I can't really comment on him," said Benitez, giving little away.

Few clubs have the financial power to lure Sterling away from Liverpool, but Real Madrid are certainly one of them. They may have Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale at their disposal, but under the stewardship of president Florentino Perez, Real often make big-name signings whether they need them or not.

Sterling fits that mould, and Benitez's admiration could spark concrete interest from Real Madrid in signing the former QPR youngster as we approach the summer transfer window.

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