Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri

Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri admits his time at Napoli was made easier by having Rafa Benitez as his predecessor at the club.

Sarri took over from Benitez at the Serie A side in 2015 and guided them to second place behind champions Juventus last season.

It was that achievement which led Chelsea to turn to the 59-year-old to replace his fellow Italian Antonio Conte this summer and Sarri confirmed he will acknowledge Benitez’s help when they meet at St James’ Park on Sunday.

“I have to say thank you to Rafa because when I arrived in Naples I had a feeling the team was almost ready to play my football,” said Sarri.

“If I arrived after another coach maybe for me it was more difficult, so I have to say thank you to him.

“I know he is a very good coach. We know on Sunday it will be very difficult for us.

“These opponents are very dangerous for us; last season we lost 3-0, Manchester United lost there, Arsenal lost there, so we know it will be a very difficult day.”

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