Former Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri replaces Antonio Conte as Chelsea head coach


Conte began his tenure with a bang, lifting the Premier League title in his first season, but an FA Cup win wasn't enough to save him even though he has the best win percentage 65.1 per cent of any of Chelsea´s managers in the Premier League era.

The 48-year-old's departure from Stamford Bridge has always been expected but not confirmed, even though Sky Italia reported on Thursday he had left the club a year before the end of his contract.

City had agreed a £44m deal a fortnight ago for the eight-times capped player according to reports, but apparently withdrew interest when the price rose.

Jorginho was close to joining Manchester City this offseason but he has moved instead to a team that finished 30 points behind the Premier League champion last season and won't be playing in the Champions League this season.

Playmaker Fabregas "liked" a message welcoming Conte's departure on Twitter, swiftly apologising and suggesting he had pressed the button in error before wishing Conte luck for the future. The Italian last summer sent a text message to the striker saying he was surplus to requirements. Can they compete with the likes of Manchester City and Manchester United?

The end was expected to come in hours or days, rather than weeks.

Chelsea's usual policy is to pay a sacked manager for the duration of their contract and, with no real top-tier jobs available, Conte could receive a salary from the Blues while out of the game.

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The Russian's visa issues, the indefinite halting of plans to rebuild Stamford Bridge and the challenge for consistent on-field success all point to hard times ahead.

And the Blues face on-pitch challenges too, with domestic rivals strengthening.

The Blues leave for Western Australia next Wednesday and will hope Sarri is on board.

With two trophies, Conte's spell as boss will likely be considered a success.

The 59-year-old was replaced at Napoli by former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti in May after guiding the Partenopei to two second-place finishes and one third spot across his three seasons in charge.

Sarri has always been the favourite to succeed Conte, but contractual wrangles for both managers delayed the appointment.