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Sarri looking for a way out as Napoli stand firm and De Laurentiis taunts Conte

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Haven’t we learned our lesson with Napoli yet?

SSC Napoli v OGC Nice Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

Zenit St. Petersburg have chosen the path of less resistance by appointing a former player and assistant coach as their new manager earlier today, and perhaps Chelsea would be well advised to look into just such an option as well. Or maybe just offer Conte a new contract, shower him with support and quality new signings, get rid of the malcontents, and watch the trophy-winning magic happen once again?

Those are all just silly asides of course. Chelsea seem intent on appointing Maurizio Sarri, but apparently not so intent that we’d bite the bullet and simply pay the man’s €8m release clause. Instead, we’re faffing about at €4m, or maybe not even that much. Meanwhile, it would take Napoli just €3m to keep paying Sarri for the next two years — his salary is a relatively piddly €1.5m/year — and while that sounds silly, this is Aurelio De Laurentiis we’re talking about here.

The latest reports out of Italy make it clear that the situation continues to trend towards that outrageous future, with Chelsea refusing to pay the buyout, Di Laurentiis standing firm “to prove a point” and Sarri’s lawyers working hard “to find a way out” of his contract. Under Italian law, apparently the only way to terminate a contract is either by sacking or mutual consent and if no one pays the release clause, Sarri would conceivably have to sit out a year — until presumably the release clause activates again? His contract only expires in 2020.

If we have any doubts about Di Laurentiis’ pettiness — as if the prior half-decade of trying to do business with him haven’t been proof enough — here he is throwing a bit of sand in Conte’s eyes, too, just for the fun of it, just because he can.

“With Carlo [Ancelotti], we’ve felt over the years that he’s a man who’s always given us a sense of serenity. When he asked me for some players and I said ‘no’, he didn’t keep insisting like Conte. He understood and did so with great tenderness.”

There was a rumor that Sarri could essentially be swapped for Conte this summer, but ADL wouldn’t have wanted that because Conte refused to give up easily in trying to get Koulibaly a couple years ago. Or so he claims (this isn’t the first time ADL has trotted out this story, mind you, though back then it wasn’t strictly aimed at the Chelsea head coach).

“I’ll never forget when Conte courted me for Koulibaly, going up to €58m with Chelsea. I told him, ‘what can I do with €58m?’ Money is a means, not an end. The end is Koulibaly.”

-Aurelio De Laurentiis; source: Football Italia

Money is means, not an end. When all of this is ashes, then we might finally have permission to sign Sarri.