Napoli chief: New coach is close

Club president Aurelio De Laurentiis says he is just waiting for the green light to appoint a replacement for Walter Mazzarri and Rafael Benitez is a candidate
Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has claimed the club is close to appointing a new coach to replace Walter Mazzarri.

Reported comments from De Laurentiis on Friday suggested that a two-year deal had been reached for Rafa Benitez to take over.

But, later in the day, De Laurentiis spoke to Rai Sport to clarify the situation. He said: "I just said I'm willing to make a gift to myself negotiating a coach but I can't announce him right now because I'm waiting for a green light. He can be Benitez or [Manuel] Pellegrini or someone else."

Despite finishing second in Serie A, Mazzarri parted ways with the Partenopei and Chelsea's interim manager has been the favourite to replace him at the Stadio San Paolo.

Benitez won the Europa League and secured a Champions League spot by finishing third in the Premier League, but the former Liverpool boss will not remain in charge at Stamford Bridge.

Jose Mourinho is instead expected to make a return to Chelsea - with Real Madrid having confirmed he will leave this summer - and Mazzarri's departure has opened the door for Benitez to return to Serie A, which he left in 2010 after an unsuccessful spell at Inter.

The Spaniard has been the bookmakers' favourite for the job with Mazzarri now being linked with the vacancy at Inter following Andrea Stramaccioni's sacking on Friday.