Currently cruising at the summit of the Serie A table with Napoli, Rafa Benitez is punctuating his Europa League coup with Chelsea last season with a firm challenge for the Scudetto in Italy. However, the 53-year-old who has won three major European titles, believes he could have sealed a Premier League crown at west London if the top brass at Stamford Bridge had shown him financial support during the January transfer window.
'It was a part of my experience in England and I was really pleased in the end. I can understand that a group of fans were not happy, but I had more than 500 messages sent to my website from Chelsea fans who said, “Thank you very much, we understand”,' said Benitez to the Daily Mail when reflecting on his 48 match spell at the club.
Considering his 58% win record, the 99 goals returned from those 48 matches and the Europa League trophy, there were understandably sections of fans who wished Benitez would have been allowed to continue his Chelsea tenure into the current season. But, alas, it appeared that the Jose Mourinho return was the only likely scenario.
What has been Chelsea's loss has thus far been Napoli's gain as, with a stunning transfer activity that has seen a plethora of top talent offset the Edinson Cavani exit, the club are challenging on two major fronts: Serie A and the Champions League.
On his time at Chelsea, Benitez continued: 'The priority of the club was to finish in the top three and we did it and we won another trophy. I’m sure that if we had signed some players in January it could have been even better. We were looking for a midfielder because Oriol Romeu was injured. We had names in mind, but they decided no, we had to carry on.'
At the time, Chelsea were press-linked with some of the biggest names in world football including then-Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao, Dutchman Klaas Jan Huntelaar, Athletic Bilbao goal-scorer Fernando Llorente, Benfica ace Nelson Oliveira, Marseille front-man Loic Remy and Porto wizard Jackson Martinez.
Their sole recruits were Wallace, from Fluminense, and Demba Ba, of Newcastle United.
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