• Premier League

Benitez to Napoli played down

ESPN staff
May 25, 2013
Rafael Benitez won the Europa League with Chelsea and guided the club into the Champions League © Getty Images

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has played down comments he made earlier on Friday evening that Rafael Benitez is to become his club's new coach.

It was reported by Football Italia that De Laurentiis had told reporters former Inter Milan coach Benitez, who recently won the Europa League as interim Chelsea manager, will be given a two-year contract at Napoli.

He said: "I've given myself a birthday gift - I've signed Benitez. I'll make it official in the next few days, as Benitez needs to end things with Chelsea. He'll have a two-year contract, no longer. We need to get to know each other first, then we'll see."

However, Sky Sports later quoted De Laurentiis as saying: "I've closed the negotiations for the new coach, but I can't officially announce it until I get permission from the other club with which he's under contract until June 30.

"I met in the hall of my hotel here in London a group of people who I have known for many years and I told them, 'I got myself a gift', but I don't name names.

"It could be [Manuel] Pellegrini, Benitez, [Laurent] Blanc, [Jupp] Heynckes or someone we know who is looking for a bench for the future. Unfortunately, I can't say due to UEFA's rules, because I am waiting for the club who has him under contract to give us permission to announce it."

Napoli manager Walter Mazzarri announced his resignation at Napoli following a 2-1 loss to Roma earlier this week, and has since been appointed Inter Milan manager.

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