Benitez wants Guardiola to replace him but ex-Barca boss fancies Arsenal role.
“Guardiola has a fantastic record,” Benitez told BBC Sport’s Richard Conway. “If he comes and we’ve won a lot of trophies, I’ll be very pleased.”
When asked how he would feel if owner Roman Abramovich asked him to leave at the end of the season, Benitez said: “When I decided to come, I knew I was signing a contract for six or seven months so I was not thinking about more after these seven months.”
Benitez has had a hostile reception since taking over at Stamford Bridge, but the 52-year-old believes he can win over fans.
“I understand the feelings of the fans because of the rivalry between both clubs (Liverpool and Chelsea),” he said.
“After the improvement of the team, the way I will play [and] the style I will have, I think a lot of fans will say: ‘Maybe we were too hard and we have to give him the chance to bring the confidence back to the team and the fans’.”
It’s rare to hear a manager publicly recommend a rival as his replacement but Rafa Benitez has done just that!
The Spaniard claims he’ll be ‘pleased’ if his friend and compatriot Pep Guardiola takes over at Stamford Bridge next summer but it’s questionable whether Benitez’s words are genuine or designed to please owner Roman Abramovich and the Blues fans.
The Russian billionaire has made no secret of his desire to appoint Guardiola, who won 14 trophies in four years at Barcelona, making him the club’s most successful ever manager, as Chelsea boss.
Abramovich tried to tempt Guardiola into taking the job this summer but the Catalan insisted that he wanted to take a year-long sabbatical and Abramovich reluctant turned to Champions League winner Roberto Di Matteo.
Chelsea clearly have the ambition and finances to attract Guardiola as Benitez’s replacement but the 41-year-old is a man of principle and reports have suggested that he would prefer to take over as Arsenal boss.
The Spaniard reportedly admires the Gunners’ style of club and the management structure at the Emirates, which could leave Abramovic lumbered with Benitez, which, judging from the comments above, would be a disappointment for both men!
Download the free fanatix app now for iPhone: Sport news, social features and more!
Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr: