Antonio Conte’s days as Chelsea manager look well and truly numbered.
Even after securing the FA Cup with a 1-0 victory over Manchester United, reports and rumours are circling that a fifth place simply wasn’t good enough for him to keep his job. In truth, Chelsea fans have had their suspicions since the early weeks of the season.
In the meantime, Maurizio Sarri has emerged as the favourite to take over at Stamford Bridge this summer.
While the likes of Massimiliano Allegri and Luis Enrique are still being touted, the likelihood of Sarri getting the job seems to be increasing by the day.
Rumours were certainly accentuated by his departure from Napoli this week, ending a three-year spell in Naples and seeing Carlo Ancelotti inherit the reins at the club.
Sarri favourite to replace Conte
Not only that, but reports emerged on Friday that Sarri had opened formal talks with Chelsea about replacing Conte.
It has been reported that his representatives met with Chelsea staff for seven hours as the manager weighs up whether or not to accept an alternative, £5.3 million offer from Zenit St.Petersburg.
And one of the topics discussed at the meeting was transfers.
Four names on Sarri’s transfer list
A theme of Conte’s tenure at Chelsea has been disputes over transfer dealings and supporter confusion at certain signings such as Ross Barkley and Danny Drinkwater. Sarri, however, seems to have his transfer intentions revolving firmly around his old club Napoli.
According to the Evening Standard, no less than four Napoli players feature on his transfer list if he were to be offered the Chelsea job.
Those men are right-back Elseid Hysaj, midfielder Piotr Zielinski, defender Raul Albiol and centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly.
On paper, it would seem unlikely that Napoli would hand over so many of their players but with the first three players wielding release clauses of £44m, £57m and £5.2m respectively, there’s hope for Sarri.
Jorginho is also believed to be of interest yet Manchester City are overwhelming favourites for the midfielder.
Even if Chelsea only secured two of the aforementioned signings, though, their squad would have two points of experience with Sarri and two strong additions to the side.
The report also reveals that, prior to Sarri talks, Chelsea’s transfer plans were set to revolve around Leon Bailey, Richarlison and Jamaal Lascelles.
However, for the time being, Chelsea’s biggest transfer priority seems to be securing their new manager.
And while it would be premature to assume Sarri already has the job, it’s difficult to see a scenario where the ex-Napoli boss doesn’t succeed Conte.
Anything can happen in football but it seems Chelsea are a few conversations away from turning their attentions to Hysaj, Zielinski, Albiol and Koulibaly.
It could be a busy summer at Stamford Bridge.
Do you think Sarri is the right man for Chelsea? Have your say in the comments section below.