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Benitez tips Chelsea for title next season

Rafa Benitez believes that Chelsea will mount a challenge for the Premier League title next season as his spell after the club's interim manager came to an end.

• Brewin: Exit stage left
• Blog: Chelsea bid Rafa farewell

Benitez's seven-month tenure at Stamford Bridge ended with a 2-1 win over Everton to round off a successful spell which saw him guide the Blues to third place - and with it an automatic Champions League spot - and the Europa League trophy.

While the Spaniard is now looking for another job, he believes that he has helped transform an underperforming squad into championship material for his successor to inherit this summer.

"You take a team in transition, with young players, and now we have left a good team with more experience, more character, scoring goals and more balance," he said.

"I think it will be good for the next manager, who will have a very good team, and the owner will bring in more players. This team will challenge for the title next year. Roman Abramovich has been key for the success and future of the club, improving the competition and bringing in players."

Benitez chose to not celebrate with the home supporters - many of whom have been vocal in their disapproval of his appointment from his very first match back in November - but admitted he is sad to leave.

"It's a pity when you see these professionals and their talent but that's football," he said. "People have been growing and will be better players in the future.

"The situation is I will not be here. I did my job. I enjoyed working with this group of players. Now we move on. My successor will have a fantastic team.

"After 26 years in different countries, I didn't need to prove anything."

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