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Volume 7 No. 149
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Chelsea Sacks Antonio Conte, Is Expected To Hire Maurizio Sarri

Maurizio Sarri led Napoli to a second-place finish in Serie A this past season.

Maurizio Sarri "is set to be confirmed as Chelsea’s new head coach" after Antonio Conte was "finally relieved of his duties after two increasingly fractious years in charge," according to Dominic Fifield of the London GUARDIAN. Conte, who claimed the Premier League title and an FA Cup in his two seasons at the club, "had been anticipating the axe to fall all summer" but, with Chelsea’s negotiations over the compensation due to Napoli to secure Sarri "having proved complicated," Conte "returned to his office at Cobham last weekend." The Italian "even took training on Thursday morning" before confirmation came of his sacking later on Thursday. He had a year left on his £9M ($11.9M)-a-season deal, renegotiated last summer in the wake of the Premier League "triumph," and will be due a "hefty payoff." Relations between Conte and the Chelsea hierarchy "had always been difficult but deteriorated markedly over a difficult second season," with "regular disagreements" over transfer policy. Sarri, who led Napoli to second place in Serie A last season, "is expected to be confirmed as Conte’s replacement imminently, with progress having been made" between his lawyers and those representing Napoli and Chelsea in the last 48 hours (GUARDIAN, 7/12). In London, Miguel Delaney reported Chelsea's talks with Napoli intensified after the Italian club hired Carlo Ancelotti as its new manager, with the "significant breakthrough over compensation for Sarri coming as negotiations intensified" over midfielder Jorginho, a player whom Sarri "had specifically requested be signed" by Chelsea (INDEPENDENT, 7/12).

ROLLING THE DICE: In London, Matt Law reported Chelsea Owner Roman Abramovich is risking paying Conte his full £9M compensation bill, with the Italian "ready to take a year out if no big jobs become available." Abramovich "held off sacking Conte to see if a job became available that would save Chelsea having to pay him," but the club was left with "little choice but to act." Conte wanted "greater control on the transfers and would have also attempted to instigate an overhaul of the playing squad" had he stayed on for his final 12 months. He would have "frozen out David Luiz, Willian and others, while Chelsea feared that Eden Hazard would not sign a new contract if Conte stayed." That "ultimately convinced Chelsea that the club could not risk the squad imploding" over the next 12 months (TELEGRAPH, 7/12).