Benitez leaves Chelsea for SSC Napoli
Rafael Benitez's tenure as Chelsea boss is officially over after the club announced they had released him from his contract last night. The Spaniard's impending exit from Stamford Bridge had been known for some time and last night it was announced that he will become the new head coach of Serie A club Napoli.
Benitez took over at the Blues in an interim capacity in November following the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo and, despite enduring a torrid relationship with some of the fans in west London, he guided the club to third place in the Barclays Premier League and victory in the Europa League final. His final act in charge was a recent tour of the United States, which ended in two defeats to Manchester City, and Chelsea have now confirmed the 53-year-old is free to join Napoli.
"Chelsea Football Club has today (Tuesday) released Rafael Benitez from his contract to become the new manager of Napoli," said a statement on www.chelseafc.com.
"Rafa was appointed as the club's interim manager last November, and steered us to automatic Champions League qualification thanks to our third-place finish in the Barclays Premier League, while also leading us to the Europa League title in Amsterdam earlier this month. Everybody at Chelsea Football Club would like to place on record our thanks to Rafa and his staff for their work at the club, and wish them success for the future."
The departure of the Spaniard will not have come sooner for the Blues fans, as the ex-Liverpool boss was never a 'fan favourite'. Benitez' time at Chelsea was shrouded in controversy from when he took over in November last year, and one of the 'highlights' of the job was when Benitez publicly criticised the club's fans for not getting behind the team.
Even though some Chelsea fans had finally turned happy with him, many will be happy that Benitez is leaving. This adds to the rumours that ex-boss José Mourinho will return to manage the club.