The long-running saga over Antonio Conte’s future appears to have been resolved with Chelsea sacking him as manager and appointing Maurizio Sarri, according to media reports yetserday.
The BBC said the 48-year-old Italian’s two year reign – which brought league success in 2017 and the FA Cup last season – was ending although they added Chelsea would not comment.
However, Conte’s apparent dismissal drew a response from Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas, who liked a tweet a Chelsea fan posted about Conte having been sacked although the Spanish 2010 World Cup winner subsequently claimed he had liked it by accident.
Conte leaves with the best win percentage 65.1% of any of Chelsea’s managers in the Premier League era.
Former banker Sarri, 59, will be Chelsea’s ninth full-time manager since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003.
Conte – who had a year to run on his contract – is seen to have contributed to his own demise by falling out both with the players and the board as the sheen of the title victory quickly disappeared.
His intense training methods angered senior players and he alienated the board with disparaging treatment of Spanish striker Diego Costa and constant carping over the club’s failure to replace top players with those of similar ability.
However, while present players may have had issues with Conte, former Chelsea legend John Terry, who left after the league title winning campaign had nothing but praise for him.
“Thank You Boss,” Terry posted on Instagram alongside a photo of the two of them holding the Premier League trophy.
“Great man, Great manager. I wish you every success in the future.”
Sarri has been favourite to succeed his compatriot after impressing as manager of Serie A side Napoli, who have replaced him with former Chelsea handler Carlo Ancelotti.
Sarri, who split his time between banking and playing football before he took up coaching aged 40, has not won a major honour in three years at Napoli but has guided the club to finishes of second, third and second again.
The chainsmoking former Empoli manager – who will have to restrain himself on the touchline in England where smoking is banned – was named Serie A Coach of the Year in 2016-17.
The main reason for the prolonged saga has been compensation. Conte is due a reported £9million ($11.9million) if he remains out of work for the season and with the major jobs such as Real Madrid and the Italy national post – which he occupied for two years till after Euro 2016 – filled it is likely he will sit the year out.
Napoli are also expecting compensation of around £4.5million for Sarri, who is under contract even though he is no longer their coach.
Sarri is believed to have agreed to bring former Chelsea favourite Gianfranco Zola – whose managerial career has stalled after a series of failures – along as one of his backroom staff.
Sarri has also presented a list of players he would like to sign. They reportedly include Brazil-born Italy international midfielder Jorginho from Napoli, CSKA Moscow’s Russian playmaker Aleksandr Golovin and Italian defender Daniele Rugani from Juventus, the side that edged Napoli in the Serie A title race.
City’s Mahrez eyes Champions League glory
Manchester City’s new signing Riyad Mahrez has set his sights on winning the Champions League after completing his switch from Leicester City.
Manchester City, who won the Premier League last season with a record-breaking tally of 100 points, faltered in the Champions League, losing to Liverpool in the quarter-finals.
Yet Mahrez, who joined Man City on Tuesday for a fee reported by British media to be 60 million pounds ($79 million), feels that they have the tools required to lift European club Football’s elite trophy next season yesterday.
“It’s a club who wants to win this type of trophy,” the 27-year-old said at a news conference. “The Champions League is for big clubs. City are a big club with everything needed to try to win the Champions League.”
“That’s why I’m here, why I made the decision to come here, because I want to be part of this.” Mahrez was wanted by Man City manager Pep Guardiola in January but the club did not meet Leicester’s valuation of the player, prompting the Algerian to hand in a transfer request and skip training. “Maybe it could have happened sooner but it’s destiny, it happened like this,” he added. “If I moved sooner, maybe I wouldn’t have been happy. Now I’m very happy to have moved to City.”
“I don’t want to talk about the past too much. Now I’m here and it’s the most important.”
Mahrez could make his Premier League debut in City’s opening game at Arsenal on August 12.
Former Poland captain Brzeczek takes over as coach
Former Polish international Jerzy Brzeczek was appointed head coach of the national team, the country’s Football association announced yesterday. The 47-year-old replaces Adam Nawalka, whose highly-fancied national squad were eliminated in the group stage of the World Cup in Russia.
Brzeczek was a midfielder who captained Poland, won 42 caps, scored four goals and was part of the team that were runners-up at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.
Fulham beat Chelsea to sign Ivory Coast star Seri
Ivory Coast international Jean Michael Seri signed for Fulham yesterday, chosing the Premier League new boys over Chelsea and German side Borussia Dortmund. The 26-year-old midfielder signed a four-year contract – with the option of a further year – with Fulham paying Ligue 1 side Nice a reported £25million ($33million, 28.2million euros).
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