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Benitez still to confirm Napoli switch

Outgoing Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez has yet to confirm that he will take charge of Napoli next season.

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Former Inter Milan boss Benitez, who is leaving Stamford Bridge after securing third place and the Europa League, is expected to seal a return to Serie A.

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis was quoted as telling Sky Italia on Friday: "Benitez 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."

However, he later denied that he had named Benitez, telling reporters: "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 30.

"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."

Benitez completed his Chelsea duties this weekend with the 5-3 friendly defeat to Manchester City at Yankee Stadium in New York but, speaking to Sky Sports News after the match, was coy about his next move.

"I am going to London now," he said. "I want to be in a top side so that we can play in the Champions League, if that is possible."

Benitez, who had not worked as a coach in nearly two years when he took charge of the Blues, is delighted to have enjoyed a successful interim spell at Stamford Bridge.

"I think it was a good challenge and I enjoyed it at the end," he said. "We won a trophy, (we reached) some semi-finals, a final (and finished in the) top three so I am really pleased because a lot of people at the start, people around players, they were pushing and pushing. I am really pleased for everyone."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report

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