x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Rafael Benitez admits interest in Chelsea vacancy following Di Matteo sacking

The former Liverpool manager tells The National that the Champions League title holders 'falls in the category' of clubs he wants to manage, after being made favourite to replace Roberto Di Matteo.

Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez

Rafael Benitez, the former Liverpool manager, has thrown his hat into the ring for the Chelsea vacancy following the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo.

The Italian coach was dismissed following the side's 3-0 defeat to Juventus in the Champions League in Turin on Tuesday night.

Speculation about the former Valencia and Liverpool manager being approached began in England immediately after the match.

Today Benitez, in Abu Dhabi to talk at a coaching seminar, refused to confirm whether the club had made any approach, but said that Chelsea would fit the criteria of the kind of club he would return to management for.

Asked whether Chelsea would be the kind of side to tempt him back into coaching after a break of nearly two years, Benitez told the National, "Obviously it is a top side and they can compete for trophies so it falls in this category.

"What I will say is that I am looking for a club that can challenge for trophies so Chelsea is one of these clubs.

"The reason [I have not coached for nearly two years] is that you are looking for a top side that can challenge for trophies, because there are not too many top sides that can challenge so I had to wait."

Oddsmakers in London currently have Benitez, who has not coached since leaving Inter Milan shortly after winning the Club World Cup in December 2010, as current favourite for the Stamford Bridge hot seat.

The possibility that Benitez is offered a caretaker position till the end of the season has also been raised, but Benitez was non-committal on whether he would take on such a role.

"To be fair I don't know. I have to talk to my agent and see what he has been doing in the last couple of days," he said.

"I am just trying to have a team that can win so we will find ways if you have challenges like this."

Earlier in the day, during the seminar just before the news of Di Matteo's sacking was emerging, Benitez had said that his "next challenge was close."

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