It has only been four days since Antonio Conte lead Chelsea to victory in the FA Cup final, beating José Mourinho’s favored Manchester United side in a most Mourinho-esque fashion possible, 1-0 on a penalty kick. It was the first knockout competition trophy in Conte’s management career and second trophy overall in just as many season at Chelsea. Yet, the the win was not expected to change the narrative. In fact, we’re sort of wondering why Chelsea are waiting to sack him.
According to the Telegraph, the hesitation comes from a “game of brinkmanship” played between Chelsea and Conte. It is all quite simple: the club prefer not to pay the hefty £9m severance package for the manager and most of his staff — goalkeeping coach Gianluca Spinelli may be one of the few to stay due to his good rapport with Thibaut Courtois. Meanwhile Conte will not walk out of the job simply to let Chelsea save the money they agreed to pay the man. In fact, he may even take a break for a year from football altogether — with Chelsea continuing to pay him the severance all along.
(Ed.note: this isn’t the first time Chelsea have bafflingly made a huge deal out of this fee, even though £9m is an absolute pittance compared to the transfer fees the club have to shell out these days — it would buy you barely a quart(er) of Danny Drinkwater, for example).
Conte’s situation is also making waves at Italy, as Napoli head coach Maurizio Sarri is seen as the man most likely to replace him, with former Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti, in turn, taking over in Naples.
#Napoli, vertice in corso tra #DeLaurentiis e #Ancelotti per provare a chiudere https://t.co/MxPGnttg5A— Gianluca Di Marzio (@DiMarzio) May 22, 2018
According to Gianluca Di Marzio, Ancelotti and Aurelio De Laurentiis had a meeting in Rome, and the Napoli chairman is doing his best to convince the man who’s managed some of the biggest clubs in the world to take the job at his somewhat smaller outfit. It should be noted that Sarri is still in charge of Napoli, and it would appear that the release clause in his contract has not been activated.
Most sources claim the release clause’s expiration date was yesterday (May 22, as opposed to initial claims that it was good through the end of the month) and unless everything has been kept under wraps, it is unlikely that it was activated by either Chelsea or Branislav Ivanović’s Zenit St. Petersburg, who are also interested after losing manager Roberto Mancini to the Italian national team.
Napoli & Ancelotti are intense talks and the meetings are positive. It seems like it could happen.— ItalianFootballTV (@IFTVofficial) May 22, 2018
What's holding this up is Maurizio Sarri. He hasn't decided if he wasn't to leave Napoli yet & is still waiting for an offer from Chelsea
Sky Italia pic.twitter.com/sTCs4YiRwE
The situation in Naples is somewhat similar to the situation in London, with both coaches and both owners playing their aforementioned games of brinkmanship, with plenty of millions, feelings, and futures involved.
Basically, it’s a mess.
Good to luck all.
#Buongiorno! Your front pages for Wednesday's Italian sports papers in English: https://t.co/sPiERAJ6jg #Napoli #Juventus #ACMilan #FCIM #SerieA #ASRoma #LFC #CFC #Zenit #FCBayern pic.twitter.com/tiAkopVXjr— footballitalia (@footballitalia) May 23, 2018