Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis insists Chelsea have not made an approach to appoint Maurizio Sarri as their new manager.
Chelsea are reportedly lining up the 59-year-old as a replacement for Antonio Conte and have even spoken to the Italian about potential transfer targets.
But the major sticking point has been Chelsea’s refusal to pay Sarri’s €8 million (£7m) release clause, which was reduced after Napoli appointed Carlo Ancelotti as their new manager.
And De Laurentiis has now claimed that Chelsea have not yet made an attempt to sign Sarri.
The call from London has not arrived,’ he told Sky Sport24 on Friday.
Asked if he thinks Sarri will end up at Chelsea, De Laurentiis replied: ‘I do not know. Time will tell.’
Analysis: Does a Higuain-Morata swap make sense?
Italy is awash with rumours that Chelsea and Juventus are considering a swap deal which would see Alvaro Morata to Turin, and Gonzalo Higuaín go in the other direction.
For Morata, this would be the chance to return to the only place where he is venerated as a hero, where fans are unable to forget the 27 goals he scored between 2014-2016, as well as the young Spaniard’s talent and self-sacrifice.
For Higuaín, on the other hand, it would the chance to reconnect with Sarri, the Coach whose arrival in the Bay of Naples heralded a 36-goal season for the Argentine, confirmation that he was back in the big boys’ club after an up-and-down sophomore season at the San Paolo.
There is clearly a good rapport between the two – despite Higuain’s departure for Juventus for a massive €90m in 2016, Sarri revealed that Fall that he had gotten over it, claiming El Pipita “is like a son who pisses you off, but one you love deep down”.
Now, thanks to a little soundbite from the striker (“We could be together one day”), speculation is rife that Higuaín really is London-bound, so that he can solve the Blues’ striker issues.
It kind of makes sense on paper, but I can’t escape the feeling that Juventus would be picking the Pensioners’ pockets. Forget taking candy from a baby, this would taking candy from a geriatric. Why?
For a start, Alvaro Morata is 25, a whole five years younger than his counterpart. Speculation that his €75 million pricetag was too high appears frankly excessive, too. For a man who has started regularly for Juventus, who has stood toe-to-toe with Europe’s best (remember him scoring in both semifinals and the final of the 14-15 UCL?) and had a better goals-per-minute ratio than Karim Benzema in 2016-2017?
As David Amoyal shrewdly added, it’s not just about numbers with Morata. He’s an attacker with all-rounder skills – watching him keep the ball and take it 20-30 metres down the field on the counter is a joy to behold. He has physical presence (which is good enough for Italy, anyway), can play one-twos and can come up with ludicrous shots.
It is baffling that Chelsea won’t back him: remember how badly Didier Drogba played in his first two seasons ? Morata has arguably done better, getting to double figures before Christmas before his form dipped and Antonio Conte went for Olivier Giroud. Morata can develop. Can Higuain?
Morata has scored more EPL goals in his first season (11) than the Ivorian did. Strikers need patience. Sell Morata after just one season would be the sign of just how dysfunctional Chelsea are, always sacking Coaches and losing the likes of Mo Salah, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne lately.
Would Gonzalo Higuain really be that much of a difference maker? He’s coming off a 16-goal season – hardly the stuff of legend – and has regularly been accused of not scoring enough in Europe. For all his heroics in Naples, Higuain is known for his misses (the 2014 World Cup final, for one). Paying €90 million for him was too much, and getting Morata in return would be a good way for the Old Lady to offset what could be a loss. The Argentine is 30 years old. How long can he keep this up?
That’s not to say that he hasn’t improved at Juventus, especially becoming more of an all-pitch player. He would certainly have done a lot of damage against Iceland if he had started alongside El Kun Aguero, sure.