Chelsea’s move to make Maurizio Sarri their next manager could be on the verge of collapse, with Italian club Napoli remaining resolute over his release clause.
The Italian has been heavily linked with a move to Stamford Bridge to take over from Antonio Conte, who is widely expected to be sacked in the coming days. If Chelsea were to sack the Premier League and FA Cup winning manager, they would be forced to pay the final year of his contract, thought to be worth around £9 million.
While Sarri has spent much of his managerial career in the lower reaches of Italian football, he has won many admirers for his progressive football since moving to Napoli in 2015.
His Napoli side were renowned for playing some of the best possession based football in Europe in recent seasons, and they pushed Juventus close for the Serie A title this season, amassing an impressive 91 league points.
Despite Sarri’s success, Napoli have already announced that former Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti will become their new manager. However, the Italian club have not yet sacked Sarri and are holding out for the £7m they are entitled to as compensation for him under the terms of his contract.
Chelsea are still in talks with Napoli over that clause, but Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has insisted that he will not be negotiating:
“I don’t give anyone discounts and no-one has called me about the clause in Sarri’s contract.
“This was a clause put in his contract when it was renewed and his salary increased – so now it is going to be paid.
“I have to defend our fans. The clause defends my choices.
“When I modify a contract, it is with agreement. I inserted the clause, and it has to be honoured. Now the clause is not valid? I don’t like this one-sided idea.”
With Chelsea potentially facing a £16 million bill to change their manager, they could decide to look at cheaper or more available options, or indeed keep Conte on for one more season.