By Spain correspondent Miguel de Souza

Rafael Benitez has been sacked by Real Madrid, Football Insider sources understand.

The Spanish giants have decided to dismiss the 55-year-old former Liverpool, Chelsea and Valencia manager after a troubled season at the club.

A source close to Real has told Football Insider that an announcement is expected from the club in the next 24 hours.

Real chiefs decided to act even though the team have collected seven points from their last three league matches and are just four points behind leaders Atletico Madrid in the La Liga table.

Benitez’s team drew 2-2 against Gary Neville’s Valencia on Sunday despite twice going into the lead. In their previous two games, they had beaten Real Sociedad 3-1 and annihilated Rayo Vallecano 10-2.

Madrid have also qualified for the Champions League knockout stages, where they will face Roma in the last-16 of the competition.

Benitez took from Carlo Ancelotti as manager at the Bernabeu last summer but has faced sustained criticism throughout his reign.