Gossips: Chelsea managerial saga takes fresh twist with new boss to be announced next week

Chelsea are set to replace Antonio Conte with Luis Enrique and appoint the former Barcelona man as their new manager ‘in the next few days’, according to reports in Spain. Negotiations with Napoli over a deal for Maurizio Sarri, who has been replaced by Carlo Ancelotti, despite technically still being under contract, appear to have broken down.

Aurelio De Laurentiis, the Serie A club’s president, insists he will be ‘very reasonable’ should Chelsea wish to reignite their interest in the 59-year-old, but he is still said to be demanding €8million in compensation, despite his release clause having expired earlier this week.

‘If anyone comes to negotiate for him, I will be very reasonable,’ he said. I am not a vindictive person and, I repeat, Sarri will always have my thanks. ‘I have always been very polite to him, I have always supported him.

But at a certain point, if you have a contract with me for another two years but you start expressing doubts – saying things like ‘I don’t know if I’m staying,’ ‘I don’t know whether the club will be able to keep their best players,’ ‘in life sometimes it’s best to end stories while they are good.

‘Maurizio never answered me [about whether he was staying]. If you close the door in my face, I will politely stay away so as to not disturb your work, but only up to a certain point.

‘After that I have the right and the duty to protect the interests of the club and start to look elsewhere.’

Amid the complications, Sport claims Chelsea have swiftly turned their attentions to securing a deal for Enrique, who has been out of work since taking a sabbatical after parting company with Barcelona at the end of last season.

The Spaniard was in the running to succeed Arsene Wenger at Arsenal and had been championed by the north London club’s director of football relations, Raul Sanllehi, but his extravagant wage demands saw him drop out of the running.

Chelsea are still to resolve Antoino Conte’s situation, meanwhile, despite Sport’s claim that the FA Cup holders are on the verge of agreeing a three-year deal with Enrique. The Italian signed a new contract last summer which, in effect, represented a significant pay-rise.

The former Juventus boss is in line for a £9m compensation package and will continue, as and when the axe falls, to be paid his monthly salary for 12 months until he takes another job.

Chelsea were rocked earlier this week with the news that Roman Abramovich had put the club’s new stadium plans on hold after delays to the renewal of his UK visa and had even been considering turning to Avram Grant as a potential temporary solution to the club’s managerial situation.

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