Chelsea seem drawn to Napoli like a moth to a flame. Sometimes the flame is in the shape of Kalidou Kouilibaly. Or of Faouzi Ghoulam. Or Edinson Cavani. Every time, though, the result is the same: we get singed.
This time the flame is in the shape or Maurizio Sarri. And hey! What’s that burning smell? Yes, it’s Napoli — specifically, tempestuous hard-bargainer Aurelio De Laurentiis — once again applying the heat.
According to Corriere dello Sport (via Football Italia) Chelsea have offered the Italian club €4m to take their surplus-to-needs head coach off of their hands. They’ve just inked Carlo Ancelotti to be their new boss and you might think they’d like to save themselves the expense of paying two head coaches at the same time.
Napoli’s most famous nickname is the Partenopei Gli Azzurri (The Light Blues) but did you know they also have a secondary nickname, rather like Chelsea used to be called The Pensioners?
Know what it is? Ciucciarelli. It means The Little Donkeys. Perfect nickname, because donkeys are stubborn creatures. And as we’ve found out over the years, so are Napoli under De Laurentiis.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the club have reportedly rejected Chelsea’s offer of €4m to terminate Sarri’s contract. His buyout, which in in effect until the end of Thursday (the last day in May) is worth €8m to them and it looks like that’s exactly what they’re holding out for.
It’s worth it too, since they hold the whip hand. Chelsea cannot sign Sarri until he’s free of his previous obligation. And because Sarri was earning the paltry (in football terms) sum of €1.5m a year, The Little Donkeys can afford dig their heels in and wait for the Chelsea cash register to ring up the big number they’re demanding.
And what happens if the buyout deadline passes without a deal being struck? It’s murky, but it looks like as long as Napoli keep those paychecks coming, Sarri can’t just up and quit, according to Italian law. Which means Chelsea can’t sign him. Which would delay our summer planning.
Altogether, the whole thing is painfully familiar. Delayed summer activity. Difficulty in dealing with Napoli. Confusion.