Chelsea look to have been handed a boost in their pursuit of Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri after the Italian club dropped their request for a sizeable compensation fee, but it could still cost the Londoners in another way after a reported gentleman’s agreement between the sides.
Napoli appointed Carlo Ancelotti as their new coach several weeks ago. But with Sarri under contract until 2020, club president Aurelio de Laurentiis was still insistent that Chelsea must pay a release clause of around €8m (£7m) to hire him.
The Premier League side were unwilling to shell out that kind of money, especially with incumbent Antonio Conte entitled to a compensation package of up to £9m if he was sacked and opted take time off instead of walking into another job.
Now, however, it appears a breakthrough has been reached. According to a report originating in Italy, Napoli will not ask Chelsea to pay more than a ‘nominal’ fee for Sarri on the condition that he does not subsequently raid his former club for players this summer.
It was rumoured last month that during a meeting with Chelsea Sarri had put forward a list of transfer targets which included three players he definitely wanted from his Napoli team and another individual as an extra recommendation.
Spanish centre-back Raul Albiol, Polish midfielder Piotr Zielinski and Albanian full-back Elseid Hysaj he is said to have asked for, with star defender Kalidou Koulibaly the additional name.
But all four players could now be off limits for Chelsea if Sarri is allowed to leave Napoli without his release clause being triggered. It means he and the his potential new employers in west London would have to assess the transfer situation all over again.