The former Inter Milan manager faces competition from his old club for the signature of one of the most highly regarded young midfielders in the Brazilian first division.
The report claims Benitez has identified Paulinho as his main transfer target for the coming transfer window, and the new Stamford Bridge boss is reportedly keen to partner the Brazil star with his international compatriot Ramires at Chelsea.
The Blues have been interested in the 24-year-old for more than a year, but they've been frustrated in their chase to sign him.
Corinthians have insisted their have no need to sell their best players, but Chelsea are thought to be willing to test their resolve with a bid in January.
Paulinho operates primarily as a defensive midfielder, and his work at Corinthians saw him rewarded with a call-up to the Brazil national team squad - he now has eight caps and two goals for his country.
And last season, the 24-year-old was named in the Serie A Team of the Year, after a series of impressive performances for his club. Rafael Benitez faces Manchester City in his first game as Chelsea boss on Sunday afternoon.