Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri is nearing his move to Chelsea and is increasingly hopeful they will activate his £7million release clause imminently.
Sarri became the front-runner for the Stamford Bridge job after former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique’s wage demands priced him out of the equation.
It also appears increasingly likely that Carlo Ancelotti will take the reins at Napoli following Sarri’s departure, with the manager and the club already in talks.
Sarri’s current deal at the Stadio San Paolo is set to expire in 2020, but Napoli have been attempting to renegotiate the terms since midway through the season.
And reports have suggested Zenit offered Sarri £3.5m a season to come to Russia following the departure of Roberto Mancini. But it is understood Sarri has his heart set on a move to Chelsea and has held off making an agreement with the Russian club.
The outgoing Antonio Conte could take a break from the game should Chelsea wield the axe. Despite winning the FA Cup last Saturday against Manchester United, Conte is expected to leave Stamford Bridge this summer.
Should he do so, Chelsea risk paying £9m in compensation for the final year of his contract – however that will not come to fruition should he take another managerial job.
Meanwhile, Napoli chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis last week revealed contract talks between Sarri and the club have collapsed, paving the way for his switch to west London.
When asked about how the negotiations are progressing, De Laurentiis said: ‘There is no more time for Sarri, he didn’t answer. Ask him.
‘He has always just sent me to Alessandro Pellegrini (Sarri’s agent), he never game me an answer, he only replied, “boh!”.
‘I have to take responsibility. At some point we have to move forward. ‘I’m not saying he will leave. There is a release clause, we’ll see what will happen.’
Reports in Italy suggested Sarri had penned a new one-year extension back in March but De Laurentiis’ comments have now given the green light for his move.
Napoli finished four points behind Juventus in the Serie A title race after faltering late on to hand the Bianconeri their seventh successive league success.