Rafa Benitez set to hold talks with Chelsea about managerial vacancy
By Graeme Bailey - Tweet me: @graemebailey. Last Updated: November 21, 2012 6:27pm
Rafa Benitez: Admits Chelsea interest
Rafael Benitez is set to hold talks with Chelsea on Thursday about becoming the club's new manager, Sky Sports understands.
Benitez is hot favourite to replace Roberto Di Matteo who was sacked on Wednesday morning following Chelsea's disappointing 3-0 defeat at Juventus which leaves them on the brink of being knocked out of the Champions League.
Bookmakers have the Spaniard 8-1 on to replace Di Matteo.
Former Liverpool boss Benitez cut short an engagement in the Middle East to fly to London for talks.
Benitez, speaking from the UAE on Wednesday morning where he was attending a coaching seminar, admitted he was waiting for a club who can win trophies.
"I have just found out (about Di Matteo). Obviously Chelsea is a top side and they can compete for trophies so it goes in this category," he told Sport360.
Asked if he had already spoken to Chelsea, he added: "You ask directly, I cannot answer directly.
"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."
Benitez is known to have spoken to Chelsea in the summer but backed away as they were only willing to offer a one-year term, with Pep Guardiola - currently on a sabbatical - tipped to take charge.
But the former Liverpool boss seemed more open to the prospect, saying: "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."
The club reacted swiftly to the 3-0 loss to Juventus which took their hopes of reaching the last 16 out of their hands, and put them at risk of becoming the first holders to fail to reach the subsequent knockout phase.
The Blues have also failed to win any of their last four Premier League games, a run which has seen them slip from top to four points behind leaders Manchester City.
A club statement read: "Chelsea Football Club has parted company this morning with manager Roberto Di Matteo.
"The team's recent performances and results have not been good enough and the owner and the board felt that a change was necessary now to keep the club moving in the right direction as we head into a vitally important part of the season."
Pep Guardiola was installed as the early favourite in Sky Bet's next Chelsea manager betting but has drifted out with the former Liverpool boss backed into odds-on.