MILAN, Italy -- Inter Milan hired Leonardo as its new coach on Friday, one day after Rafa Benitez's contract was terminated by mutual consent by the European and Italian champions.
Leonardo last coached AC Milan, but left Inter's city rival at the end of last season. Leonardo has signed a contract through the 2011-12 season with Inter.
"Welcome, Leonardo is the coach of Inter," a statement on Inter's website read Friday. "A few minutes ago an agreement was signed which will tie him to the club until June 30, 2012."
Leonardo, a former Brazilian international, has just one year of experience as a coach - last year with AC Milan. He left following the club's 20-8-10 season and third-place finish in Serie A by mutual consent.
Benitez just guided Inter to the FIFA Club World Cup title this month, but the club is seventh in Serie A and their four-year reign as league champions is in jeopardy. Inter also won the Coppa Italia last season under Jose Mourinho, who is now coach at Real Madrid.
Inter's struggles can be tied to a number of injuries, but the club still sits just 13 points off the top of Serie A leaders AC Milan with two games in hand, is in the Champions League knockout stage, and the Coppa Italia last 16.