May 24, 2013, 3:15 PM EST
Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has confirmed Chelsea interm manager Rafa Benitez is set to move to Serie A on a 2-year deal with Napoli.
The deal is not complete yet, and not officially announced, which De Laurentiis backtracked to after.
However, in an interview with Sky Italia earlier today, he said “Benítez is the new coach of Napoli. I gave myself a birthday present. I’ll make it official in the next few days as he has to end his time at Chelsea, but he’ll be our new coach for the next two years.”
Later, he was forced to backtrack per official rules, saying, “I’ve closed the negotiations for the new coach, but I can’t officially announce it until I get permission from the other club with which he’s under contract until June 30th. I met in the hall of my hotel here in London a group of people who I have known for many years and I told them, ‘I got myself a gift’, but I don’t name names. It could be Pellegrini, Benitez, Blanc, Heynckes or someone we know who is looking for a bench for the future. Unfortunately, I can’t say due to UEFA’s rules, because I am waiting for the club who has him under contract to give us permission to announce it.”
Too bad for him, he’s already named the name. Benitez stated months ago he will not be returning to Chelsea, but has nonetheless raised his stock by turning around the club where fans have openly displayed their anger at his appointment.
It didn’t help he followed up fan favorite Roberto Di Matteo, and his stint at Liverpool made him an unpopular choice at Stamford Bridge, but after taking charge of Chelsea in a dire chase for a Champions League spot, he secured third place with relative ease down the stretch.
Benitez has won a Champions League trophy with Liverpool, as well as a Europa League title with Valencia in Primera Division. His only previous stint in Serie A was a year at the helm of Inter in 2010.
- MLS Cup preview: Real Salt Lake meets Sporting Kansas City to decide Major League Soccer’s 18th championship 1
- USA’s World Cup opponents: What to expect from Germany, Portugal and Ghana 8
- World Cup 2014: Group analysis from Soccerly.com 0
- 2014 World Cup Draw: USA in Group of Death with Germany, Portugal, Ghana – Schedule, times, venues 19
- 2014 World Cup Draw: Recapping the event (38)
- What US Soccer wants from the World Cup draw (23)
- Video of Jermaine Jones’ terrific goal Saturday for Schalke (22)
- Now that we know the U.S. opponents, which 23 players should Jurgen Klinsmann bring to Brazil? (19)
- 2014 World Cup Draw: USA in Group of Death with Germany, Portugal, Ghana – Schedule, times, venues (19)