Rafael Benitez is set to be appointed the next Chelsea manager in time to take charge of the club’s clash with Manchester City on Sunday, Goal.com understands.
The former Liverpool boss is expected to be handed a short-term contract by the European champions and confirmed as Di Matteo’s replacement within the next 48 hours.
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Chelsea have turned to Benitez after Pep Guardiola indicated that he wants to continue his sabbatical from football and not return to management before next summer.
Despite reports that there has been no contact between the European champions and Benitez, it is understood that a deal is being brokered for the Spaniard to be installed at Stamford Bridge imminently.
Discussions are centring on the length of the contract and the personal terms. Sources have told Goal.com that Benitez is willing to take the job until the end of the season and he is not expected to be given a long-term deal.
Chelsea expect that the 52-year-old will be in the dugout for Sunday afternoon’s Premier League match at home to Manchester City.
Benitez was in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday afternoon speaking at a coaching seminar before preparing to return to the United Kingdom, where he lives with his family in Merseyside, overnight.
Speaking to Sport360, the Spaniard declared that he has an interest in the vacant Chelsea manager’s job and hinted that his representatives had been busy in recent days.
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Benitez, who has not worked in management since being fired by Inter in December 2010, said he has been waiting for a “top side who can win things”.
When asked about taking the Stamford Bridge job on a short-term basis, Benitez said: “I have to talk with my agent and see what he has been doing the last couple of days. But I am just trying to go to a team that can win. So we will find ways to have a challenge like this.
“In football a lot of people are talking so we will see what happens in the next few days. I am looking for a club that can challenge for trophies and Chelsea is one of these clubs.”