Benitez has tipped Chelsea to compete for the title in the current season. The Spaniard who delivered Europa league and FA cup in his 6-months interim stint with the Blues believes Sarri has the quality to lead the team to a title.

The Magpies boss, in a statement on a Friday ahead of the Sunday game against the host said: “I think so. Maybe at the moment, there are three teams that you could say that they are a little bit ahead of the others, for me – Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City – because of the level, the performances last year and the money they spent”. “If you have to pick three, I will pick these. They have enough quality to do well”.

Benitez is well aware of the Sarri’s quality, having seen the Italian finish top positions in his three consecutive spells with Napoli. He said: “We did what we had to do. He did well, played good football and they had a very good group of players”. “We were an offensive team in Italy playing well, and he received this group and he carried on working with them and was doing well”.

Meanwhile, Eden Hazard could make his first start of the new league season for Chelsea on Sunday after Blues’ boss Maurizio Sarri insists the Belgian is going nowhere. Hazard have been linked with a move to Madrid all summer but the players looks likely to remain at the Bridge in the current season.