Rafa Benitez has debunked claims his time in China has taken away his competitive edge - issuing a warning to the rest of the top flight that he can compete with "anyone".

The Spaniard spent 18 months in the Chinese Super League with Dalian Pro prior to his switch to Goodison which led to suggestions in some quarters that he may struggle in his new post.

“Some of the questions about China [whether that period softened his competitive edge] mean nothing to me," he told evertonfc.com.

“It is the opposite. For me, [managing Everton] is an opportunity to show I am still competitive and capable of competing against anyone.

“It depends on your team – but I am ready to compete and try to do really well in every single game.”

He steered the Chinese side to a midtable finish in his first season after his exit from Newcastle United.

The following year in a pandemic-affected league, the format switched to two mini-leagues where Dalian finished second from bottom.

But for the 61-year-old, there is only one philosophy in terms of his education and tactics that he abides by.

He continued: “You have to win, win, win. That was part of my education.

"Since I was a kid, it was just to win, to finish first, it is something you will keep forever.

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“It is crucial for players to feel you care about them and want to improve them – and that you can do it [oversee improvement],

“I have passion one-on-one when I coach them. I think they can feel this passion and will try to make sure next time they can do this or that."

With his first competitive match in charge just under two weeks away, he has one more test against Manchester United before the Blues welcome Southampton on the opening day.

Benitez will be hoping to eclipse his predecessor Carlo Ancelotti and climb higher than last season's 10th place finish.

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