Chelsea are running out of time to sack Antonio Conte if they want to avoid having to pay a whopping £9.5m in compensation.
Conte signed a two-year contract with the Blues on 18 July, 2017, keeping him at the club until July 2019. However, according to the Standard, he has a clause in his contract that entitles him to a £9.5m pay-off if he is relieved of his position within a year of his contract expiring.
Chelsea would still have to pay him some compensation should he leave before July, but it would be a lot less than £9.5m, and could be as little as half that amount.
It would be a huge surprise if Conte remains at Stamford Bridge. All the signs are there that he will be gone and gone soon. The rumour mill is in full swing and the consensus is that Maurizio Sarri, currently at Napoli, is the preferred choice.
In fact, in some quarters, a deal was expected as early as yesterday. That has obviously not materialised but the feeling is that we are talking just days before an announcement is made.
Sarri, who continues to be employed by Napoli, has been replaced as first-team coach by former Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti and so his departure from the Serie A runners-up is a given.
The only things that need sorting out now are personal terms and some sort of compensation for Napoli. However, it is still a little strange that Chelsea has not yet sacked Conte. What are they waiting for?