Jose Mourinho 'raised the level' at Real Madrid - Florentino Perez

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has said the club owes former coach Jose Mourinho a debt of gratitude.

Perez, speaking to Spanish radio station Cadena Cope, praised the Portuguese, who was in charge at Real from 2010 until 2013 and led them to their most recent league title three years ago.

When asked whether he would hire Mourinho again, Perez said: "We don't contemplate that, but he gave us a very important leap in quality to occupy the place we deserved in the world."

Real reached the semifinals of the Champions League for three consecutive years under Mourinho and were runners-up to Atletico Madrid in the 2013 Copa del Rey.

"Mourinho, like any other coach, has his good and bad things," Perez said. "He started well and raised the level. He gave us that push that we needed to progress past the last 16 stages in competitions.

"With Mourinho we reached three semifinals besides winning a league title -- a league that we won with 100 points."

Mourinho, who left Real to return to Chelsea, said fending off the threat of Barcelona to win the title had been "the toughest" domestic race of his career.

But when asked whether the Portuguese was the best coach he had ever hired, Perez backed the club's current boss, saying: "My best coach is Rafa Benitez."

Benitez replaced Carlo Ancelotti, who was sacked after a 2014-15 campaign when the club failed to win a major trophy, and is the 10th coach to serve under Perez.

The president said: "The position of coach is always difficult. After a while, the relationship between the players and coach deteriorates.

"It's something that has always happened."

Real defender Alvaro Arbeloa -- who also played for Benitez at Liverpool -- backed him to succeed, telling the club's official website: "Rafa is a very methodical coach, very hard working, highly demanding.

"I assure you that we are going to become better players and a better team through hard work and effort.

"In order to manage Real Madrid you have to be one of the best managers in the world, and Rafa meets that criterion."

Real have taken four points from a possible six and visit Espanyol on Saturday.