Jose Mourinho has reopened his long-term feud with Rafael Benitez by suggesting the Spaniard's mind was elsewhere when Chelsea lost to Corinthians in the final of the FIFA Club World Cup last weekend.
Mourinho has been widely tipped to leave the Bernabeu in the summer, with Benitez mentioned as a possible replacement.
The former Liverpool boss even hinted that he has had contact with the Primera Liga champions by claiming: "I know things, but I am not going to say anything about Real Madrid because I don't think I should."
That triggered a response from Mourinho, who said: "As a Chelsea fan, all I can say is that I hope he wasn't thinking about Real Madrid during the Corinthians game."
Speculation about Mourinho's impending departure from Real Madrid has intensified in recent months after a poor first half of the season has seen them fall 13 points adrift of league leaders Barcelona.
They also failed to top their group in the Champions League, which has left them facing a difficult last-16 tie with Manchester United.
The poor results have also come against a backdrop of dressing-room unrest, with Mourinho's relationship with several key players, including Cristiano Ronaldo, reported to have broken down.
The manager remains bullish, though, even suggesting that the club's sub-standard form is the fault of the players, not himself.
He said: "I did not realise that tomorrow I reach 400 games managing in the top flight until I was told, but I know that in that time I have lost fewer than 40 games.
"I have never been found wanting in terms of motivation. The players have to find that motivation and improve.
"We have to improve in all aspects of the play. We are not happy with our numbers from these first months of the season."
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