Chelsea may have little choice but to hand Antonio Conte a sizeable compensation fee of up to £9m if they are to get rid of him and appoint a new manager this summer.
Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri is the club’s rumoured first choice. But given that the Serie A side are insistent a £7m release clause must be paid, it could cost Chelsea as much as £16m to change manager, even before wages, bonuses and signing fees come into it.
Conte has previously made it clear he is unwilling to simply walk away from the last year of his contract. As such, the Daily Telegraph reports that the FA Cup winners would have to pay him off with a figure up to the value on the remaining time on his contract, around £9m.
The Chelsea hierarchy would have hoped that Conte be open to waiving any compensation if he could find another similarly high paying job and therefore not be stung by a loss of earnings.
However, the Telegraph’s report claims that the former Juventus coach could well take a break from coaching should he be given the boot, not least because viable opportunities at the elite level of European football are few and far between.
Conte delivered a Premier League title in stunning fashion in 2016/17, but relations between the coach and his Stamford Bridge bosses are thought to have been strained for several months, largely as a result of disagreements over transfer policy and control.
Conte’s Chelsea could only finish fifth in the Premier League this season, missing out on the Champions League for the second time in three seasons and throwing further uncertainty onto the future of several key players.