Rafa Benitez now free to take Napoli manager job

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Rafael Benitez’s tenure as ­Chelsea manager 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.

A statement on www.chelseafc.com explained: “Chelsea Football Club has today (Tuesday) released ­Rafael Benitez from his contract to ­become the new manager of ­Napoli. ­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.”