The Liverpool legend says the club are still reaping the rewards of Benitez's reign because of the way he overhauled the academy.
Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish has claimed that Rafael Benitez will be welcomed back to Anfield with open arms not only because of his trophy haul at the club, but because of the way he guaranteed a bright future for the club, as quoted by the Liverpool Echo.
Benitez won the Champions League and the FA Cup in his six years at the club and also led them to four consecutive top-four finishes, including seeing his side finish as runners-up in his penultimate campaign.
The popular Spaniard will return to Anfield on Saturday with his struggling Newcastle United team to face Jurgen Klopp's Reds side, which is likely to bear the hallmarks of Benitez's influence.
Dalglish believes that Benitez's success at Anfield stretched far beyond the incredible comeback victories in the 2005 Champions League final and the 2006 FA Cup final, and has highlighted the changes which the 56-year-old made to the club's academy as his primary legacy.
The Scottish legend said, as quoted by the Liverpool Echo: "Rafa will be welcomed back with open arms and rightly so. It isn’t just about the trophies that Rafa won as Liverpool manager, although they are testament enough to the service he provided to the club, it is also about his legacy and we’re still reaping the rewards of that today.
"The benefits of the [academy] changes he put in place at that time are still being seen, you only have to look at some of the players in the first team squad to recognise that. Sheyi Ojo, Jordon Ibe and Jerome Sinclair were both brought in at that time while others including Jon Flanagan, Connor Randall, Ryan Kent, Cameron Brannagan, Ryan Kent and Jordan Rossiter had the benefit of working with the staff that Rafa put in place.
"All of those players have played for Liverpool’s first team this season having been given opportunities by Jurgen Klopp and I am sure that Jurgen will appreciate the contribution that Rafa made in that respect. Rafa can rightly be proud of his contribution to Liverpool and I’ve no doubt he will be given the kind of welcome he deserves."
Benitez's managerial experience and approach have begun to yield results at Newcastle, with the club having won four points in a week with victory over Swansea City and a draw with Manchester City.
However, Klopp's side will be desperate to extend their winning run to five matches as they continue to hunt for European qualification via the league.