Chelsea are hoping to appoint Roberto Di Matteo’s successor this Wednesday.And pundits predict it will be Pep Guardiola,former Barcelona Manager.
Di Matteo was sacked following the 3-0 Champions League defeat by Juventus.
Owner Roman Abramovich is known to be a long-term admirer of Pep Guardiola but it is unclear whether the former Barcelona coach can be tempted back into management.
Chelsea have made contact with former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez to gauge his interest in taking charge on a short-term basis.
The club’s board met earlier on Wednesday and their next appointment is likely to be a short-term role rather than a long-term replacement for Di Matteo, according to BBC Sports editor David Bond.
In the statement announcing Di Matteo’s sacking on Wednesday morning, Chelsea said they hoped to announce a new manager “shortly”.
Chelsea, who are looking for a ninth manager since Abramovich took over in 2003, contacted Benitez before Tuesday’s defeat in Italy as he assessed his options.
Chelsea managers under Roman Abramovich
Claudio Ranieri: Sep 2000 to May 2004
Jose Mourinho: Jun 2004 to Sep 2007
Avram Grant: Sep 2007 to May 2008
Luiz Felipe Scolari: Jul 2008 to Feb 2009
Guus Hiddink: Feb 2009 to May 2009
Carlo Ancelotti: Jun 2009 to May 2011
Andre Villas-Boas: Jun 2011 to Mar 2012
Roberto Di Matteo: Mar 2012 to Nov 2012
Benitez, 52, who is currently in Abu Dhabi, has been out of work since he was sacked by Inter Milan in December 2010 after just six months in charge, but has made it clear he is interested in the job.
He joined Liverpool from Valencia in 2004 and won the Champions League in 2005, as well as reaching the final in 2007, before leaving Anfield by mutual consent in 2010.
On Wednesday he told Abu Dhabi-based website Sport 360: “I have just found out [about Di Matteo]. Obviously Chelsea is a top side and they can compete for trophies so it goes in this category.”
Asked if Chelsea had approached him, he said: “You ask directly, I cannot answer directly.
“In football a lot of people are talking so we will see what happens in the next few days. I am looking for a club that can challenge for trophies and Chelsea is one of these clubs.”
When Benitez was asked about the prospect of managing on a short-term basis, he added: “I have to talk with my agent and see what he has been doing the last couple of days.
“But I am just trying to go to a team that can win. So we will find ways to have a challenge like this.”
Di Matteo won the Champions League and FA Cup as caretaker manager last season and was given a two-year deal in June.
But in the wake of the defeat to Juventus, which has left the Blues on the brink of a Champions League exit, he has left Stamford Bridge after just eight months in charge.
Di Matteo’s compensation is still being worked out and he is likely to continue to be paid until he finds a new post elsewhere.
After an impressive start to the season, the Blues have won two of their last eight games.
They sit third in the Premier League table, four points behind leaders Manchester City, who they host at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Image of Phil McNulty Phil McNulty Chief football writer, BBC Sport
Even by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovic’s sky-high standards, the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo is ruthless. This is the manager who won the Champions League and FA Cup in May. Chelsea’s statement claims results and performances have not been good enough – and yet only a month ago they were top of the Premier League after an outstanding 4-2 win at Spurs. The decision makes it even more abundantly clear that Di Matteo was only keeping the seat warm for the first love of Abramovich’s footballing life, former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola. Will he ever be able to lure him to a club for which managerial instability is a way of life?
Chelsea could become the first Champions League holders to exit at the group stage of the competition.
The club statement said: “The team’s recent performances and results have not been good enough and the owner and the board felt that a change was necessary now to keep the club moving in the right direction as we head into a vitally important part of the season.
“The club faces a difficult task ahead in qualifying for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League as well as maintaining a strong challenge for the top of the Premier League while competing in three other cup competitions.
“Our aim is to remain as competitive as possible and challenge strongly on all fronts.”
Former West Brom and MK Dons manager Di Matteo, 42, who had been working as assistant manager at Stamford Bridge, replaced Andre Villas-Boas in March.