Antonio Conte could remain as Blues boss next season – huge claim

CHELSEA may stick with current boss Antonio Conte for next season if they fail to complete a deal for former Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri, according to European football expert Raphael Honigstein.

Sarri is the overwhelming favourite to replace Conte at Chelsea.

However, Express Sport understands Napoli are holding firm over a release clause for their ex-boss, which the Blues are not keen to pay.

Antonio Conte had a difficult season on and off the pitch at Chelsea, as they missed out on Champions League qualification, with the Italian not happy at the club’s transfer business.

But Honigstein believes the club may put their differences aside if they cannot lure Sarri to Stamford Bridge.

“I can think of a couple of reasons (why Conte has not been sacked yet),” he told ESPN FC.

“One might have to do with Roman Abramovich, the Chelsea owner, being a little bit preoccupied at the moment with well-documented visa issues, perhaps not in the mood to fire a coach and have discussions about a successor.

“The pragmatic and maybe more banal reason is that Chelsea want to first get the next guy in and maybe leave themselves the possibly open of sticking with him if they cannot get a suitable replacement.

“I think the negotiations with Sarri are still going on.

“Laurent Blanc I think has thrown his hat in the ring but I think he would be a very underwhelming appointment.

“And Chelsea still think that despite all the drama and a quite difficult relationship that he has with the board and also with the players, he still might not be the worst option to stick with him for a year.

“So I just think that they want to keep that possibility just on the table for a little bit longer until they have somebody else.”

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