Why negotiations are proving so difficult for the Chelsea linked former Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri

Chloe Beresford by Chloe Beresford / 05 June 2018, 14:16

Three seasons of having pleased supporters with free-flowing football ultimately saw Napoli end up with nothing to show for their efforts under boss Maurizio Sarri, no matter how much praise he earned from Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola for his attractive style.

Throughout his tenure, Sarri and his employer – club President Aurelio De Laurentiis – took centre stage as two often controversial characters, the pair often failing to see eye-to-eye.

By the end of 2017/18, Sarri had taken the Partenopei closer than ever to challenging Juventus for the Scudetto, leaving the owner frustrated as Napoli had beaten their title rivals away from home only to throw away their chances the following week in a 3-0 defeat to Fiorentina. Stubbornness in rotation was his ultimate gripe with Sarri as he opted to criticise the boss in the public domain, making relations between the two frostier than ever.

As rumours linking the former Empoli man with Chelsea continued to grow, De Laurentiis took matters into his own hands, opting to appoint Carlo Ancelotti as first team boss as he grew tired of waiting for the current man to respond to an offer of a new contract.

Confusion has reigned since that decision was made public on May 23rd, with many perplexed as to why Sarri was not then free to join the Stamford Bridge outfit after the Neapolitans had named his successor.

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That would have been the case in England, however in Italy, Coaches remain under contract after they have been replaced until either the deal expires or both parties mutually agree to a termination in the event the boss finds a new club. Such a system explains why Italian sides have replaced their Coach, only to bring him back later in the campaign when the new man has failed to perform as expected.

Let’s take Genoa as an example. The Grifone replaced Ivan Juric with Andrea Mandorlini in February 2017, only to reinstate the former boss in April after the latter presided over four defeats in six matches. Palermo are most notorious for this practice, having seen no less than 14 managerial changes since November 2015, with both Beppe Iachini and Davide Ballardini being brought back into the fold during the aforementioned period of time.

This is why Chelsea seem to be quickly losing interest in Sarri after reportedly refusing to pay the E8 million release clause in his contract, a condition which expired on May 31st. This leaves the Blues at the mercy of De Laurentiis, a man who holds out for what he wants even if it means making a self-destructive action.

“Maurizio never answered me,” revealed the President when asked about the contract offer by Corriere dello Sport.

“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.

“If anyone comes to negotiate for him, I will be very reasonable. I am not a vindictive person and, I repeat, Sarri will always have my thanks.”

Despite these assurances, Chelsea simply cannot wait forever in order to find a replacement for Antonio Conte and reports indicate that Laurent Blanc is being lined up as a Plan B in case De Laurentiis holds out for the full E8 million. If both sides end in stalemate, Sarri could end up without a club for next season, albeit still being paid his full salary.

Such a situation is unlikely, as this course of action would not be in the best interests of any of the parties involved. With rumours of interest in the tactician from both Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur - should Mauricio Pochettino make the move to the Bernabeu  it remains probable that De Laurentiis is holding out for whichever side is willing to pay what he wants.

It is a dangerous game though, and one that could see the owner come unstuck if not now, but in the future. It would be a shame not to see Sarri develop his brand of football elsewhere next term, especially given the potential opportunity of pitting his wits against role model Pep Guardiola in the Premier League.

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