Rafael Benitez has thrown his hat into the ring for the vacant Chelsea manager's job, following the departure of Roberto Di Matteo, who left the club this morning.

The Italian coach - handed a two-year deal in June after winning the FA Cup and Champions League trophy while in temporary charge last season - has been sacked in the wake of his 3-0 defeat against Juventus last night, which has left the Blues on the brink of Champions League elimination.

If the Stamford Bridge club fail to progress to the knockout stages, they will be the first defending champions to exit the competition at that stage, prompting Russian owner Roman Abramovich to act swiftly in search of Di Matteo's successor.

Benitez was speaking at a coaching seminar in Abu Dhabi this morning, where he refused to confirm whether the club had made any approach, but did admit that Chelsea would fit the criteria of the kind of club he would return to management for.

"Obviously it is a top side and they can compete for trophies so it falls in this category," the Spanish coach is quoted by The National.

"What I will say is that I am looking for a club that can challenge for trophies so Chelsea is one of these clubs.

"The reason [I have not coached for nearly two years] is that you are looking for a top side that can challenge for trophies, because there are not too many top sides that can challenge so I had to wait."

Benitez is currently one of the bookmakers favourites to take over at Stamford Bridge, with his impending appointment in a caretaker position until the end of the season having also been mooted.

The former Liverpool and Inter Milan boss has not worked since leaving the Serie A giants in December 2010, shortly after winning the Club World Cup - a tournament he could be back competing in, if he were to take over at Chelsea.

"I have to talk to my agent and see what he has been doing in the last couple of days," he added. "I am just trying to have a team that can win so we will find ways if you have challenges like this."

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