Italian on his way out of Stamford Bridge amid claims of mismanagement over Spaniard’s departure to Atletico Madrid
A legal loophole could finally spell the end of Antonio Conte’s turbulent reign at Chelsea.
It is likely Chelsea will allege the Italian mishandled the sale of Diego Costa , cutting his compensation should they terminate his contract early.
Conte told Costa his services were no longer required at Stamford Bridge last summer, in an affair which came to be known as ‘Textgate’.
This came after Costa was frozen out at Chelsea for the first half of the season – despite being at full match fitness.
Clubs were alerted to the Spaniard’s availability immediately, which Chelsea believe devalued the striker by millions.
Costa was eventually sold back to his former club Atletico Madrid for £59 million in January.
And now, with Costa thriving back in his homeland and already scoring twice for Spain in the World Cup, Chelsea are certain they could have got a higher price.
Should Chelsea sack Conte this summer, they will be forced to pay out £9 million in compensation for the final year of his contract.
But they are exploring legal options around the Costa saga to reduce this figure.
Sarri has reportedly agreed a two-year deal with the option of a third – but there is uncertainty around these claims, as Napoli insist Chelsea have not approached him, with the London club unwilling to pay his £7 million release fee.
“The call from London has not arrived,” Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis said on Friday. “Time will tell.”
Chelsea are lining the 59-year-old up to replace Conte, but they are unwilling to pay Sarri’s £7 million release clause, which was lowered after Carlo Ancelotti became Napoli’s new manager.
If the deal goes through, though, the 59-year-old will bring with him Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola in his backroom staff while all of Conte’s staff, including former Chelsea goalie Carlo Cudicini, are set to depart with him.
And he has a £140 million transfer wish list which makes his ambitions clear.
Though Napoli striker Dries Mertens, who has a £28 million release clause, is Sarri’s top target, he would be keen to boost Chelsea’s ailing defence and midfield.
Alvaro Morata, Willian, Davide Zappacosta, Danny Drinkwater and David Luiz will all be shown the door while Napoli right-back Elseid Hysaj, Juventus centre-back Daniele Rugani, Inter Milan midfielder Matias Vecino and Nice midfielder Jean Seri could all be heading for West London.
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