What does the future hold for Napoli's title-chasing boss Maurizio Sarri?

by Chloe Beresford / 13 April 2018, 08:48

The next three Serie A fixtures will prove to be crucial for Napoli’s title hopes this season.

The Partenopei sit just four points behind Juventus with seven total matches remaining, but the forthcoming trio of games should give fans an idea of whether Maurizio Sarri’s side can indeed end Juve’s run of winning the past six consecutive league titles.

First up is this Sunday’s encounter with AC Milan, a crucial match versus a boss who has exceeded the expectations of all since he took over from Vincenzo Montella. Having instilled a culture of workrate and desire into his Rossoneri side, Gennaro Gattuso has lost just three league matches since his appointment at the end of November and will provide an alternative to the precision offered by Napoli with their style of play.

Next is a slightly easier fixture versus Udinese, and then comes the crunch. Next weekend Sarri and his team will attempt once again to break the dominance of Juventus with a crucial match versus their title rivals in Turin. It would take a look back to the 2009/10 season to find the last time that the Neapolitans triumphed away from home versus the Old Lady, but they know that their Scudetto ambitions depend on it as the current campaign draws to a close.

Yet in the background of all this are some question marks over the future of Sarri in Naples. Reports in Thursday morning’s Gazzetta dello Sport indicated that talks over a contract renewal had been postponed until after the conclusion of the aforementioned title-decider, with Chelsea said to be showing an interest with their upcoming managerial vacancy in mind.

His current deal is expected to run until 2020, but the Coach is - quite rightly - asking for more money as the two sides look to revise the contract with the forthcoming talks. Sarri’s current remuneration is set to ¤2.5 million per season and there can be no argument about how far he has taken this Napoli team since his arrival, losing just 24 matches from 141 played since his arrival in summer 2015.

The famous pink newspaper suggests that the difference between the two parties is minimal, president Aurelio De Laurentiis having offered a salary of ¤3.5 million while Sarri is asking for four. However the prospect of an ¤8 million release clause is lurking in the current deal, a fee Chelsea are surely willing to pay should they decide the current Napoli man is who they really want to succeed Antonio Conte.

With this in mind, Napoli are said to be considering alternatives for the bench next year, and it is certainly wise for them to have a Plan B. Today’s article suggests that Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi would be one of those options, having made huge strides with the Biancocelesti over two seasons. That said, the capital club would be reluctant to let their Coach go, especially as the 42-year-old is under contract until 2020.

Unai Emery of PSG, Paulo Fonseca of Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia boss Marcelino and former AS Roma Coach Rudi Garcia are all said to be in the frame should the worst happen for Napoli, but there is one candidate that stands out above the rest.

“Many have contacted me for the new season,” Sampdoria boss Marco Giampaolo revealed to TuttoCalcioNews at a recent award ceremony.

“To those who already see me sitting on the Napoli bench I’d say it’s definitely a great club, but I can’t see the future, football changes week-by-week. I’m happy to stay at Sampdoria, a fascinating club. We’ll see about the rest.”

It wouldn’t be the first time Giampaolo had replaced Maurizio Sarri, after he took charge of Empoli following his predecessor taking the position in Naples in 2015/16. The 50-year-old had joined the Tuscan outfit from Cremonese and saw his career take off after steering the Blues to an even higher finish than Sarri had, an impressive 10th in Serie A.

That said - whether they win the title this year or not - it seems the most likely outcome is that Maurizio Sarri will continue his work in Naples, however in football it’s always wise to expect the unexpected.

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