SSC Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis was in London on Monday to meet Rafael Benitez in a bid to lure Chelsea’s interim manager to the Serie A club, according to reports in Italy.
Napoli’s runner-up place to Juventus in the league was confirmed when the season ended on Sunday, meaning the Neapolitans have qualified for next season’s Champions League.
Napoli’s need to find a new manager is pressing as Walter Mazzarri on Sunday confirmed his departure from the club.
“My cycle at Napoli has come to an end. I need a change of scene,” Mazzarri, who has been tipped to replace Aurelio Andreazzoli at AS Roma, said after Napoli’s 2-1 defeat to the Giallorossi.
Several reports in Italy said De Laurentiis was accompanied by the club’s sporting director, Riccardo Bigon, and another official, Andrea Chiavelli, on the trip.
Former Liverpool manager Benitez has already coached in Italy, taking over from Jose Mourinho after the Portuguese manager led Inter to a treble of league, Coppa Italia and Champions League.
After signing a two-year deal, the Spaniard steered the Nerazzurri to victory in the Italian Super Cup and Club World Cup, but a run of poor results in Seria A left his position fragile and after seeing his request for new players turned down he was eventually sacked in December last year.
Benitez took over on an interim basis at Chelsea in November last year following the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo and led the defending Champions League winners to victory in the Europa League final over Benfica.
Benitez’s agent, Manuel Quillon, is reported to have told Napoli Network that the Spaniard is is keeping his options open.
“Napoli is a great club, so we won’t exclude or confirm anything,” Quillon said. “No decision has been made on Benitez’s future, so anything is possible.”