Chelsea still chasing Sarri agreement with several stars in limbo

Maurizio Sarri Antonio Conte Napoli Chelsea 2017-18
The Blues have yet to inform their first team about who will be training them next week as they race to secure a new manager for their return

Chelsea are still locked in talks to bring Maurizio Sarri to the club amid ongoing speculation that current manager Antonio Conte will be sacked, Goal understands.

The Blues have yet to inform their first-team players who will take pre-season training, which is due to begin next week. 

The return date for the first team players not involved in the World Cup is July 9, with Chelsea's loan players having already spent a week under coaches Eddie Newton and Tore Andre Flo at Cobham Training Centre.

A good proportion of the 30-plus loan group will then be called up to Chelsea's first-team squad to be assessed by their manager, as has been the case in recent seasons, but there is greater uncertainty over their status as the boss is unknown.

Several players have been left in limbo due to this question mark, with David Luiz one of the players expected to report back on Monday, though his relationship with Conte is strained.

Alvaro Morata, Pedro, Cesc Fabregas, Marcos Alonso, Davide Zappacosta, Emerson Palmieri, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Danny Drinkwater and Ross Barkley will also return to training on that day after the break.

An agreement in principle is in place to bring Sarri to Stamford Bridge, but Chelsea still need to work with Napoli to secure his release from his contract. The Serie A side's president Aurelio De Laurentiis has been holding out for the £7 million (€8m/$9.2m) release clause, with lawyers continuing to work to secure the move that both the London club and Sarri want.

For their part, Napoli have already replaced Sarri with former Blues manager Carlo Ancelotti, who started the new role on July 1.

Chelsea are already working hard to secure their first transfer targets, despite a lack of clarity at management level. CSKA Moscow midfielder and Russia's World Cup star Aleksandr Golovin looks very likely to become the club's first addition of the summer for a fee of around £27m (€30.5m/$35.7), with Juventus's Daniele Rugani having also had talks over a move.

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Sarri, meanwhile, has given a list of his own preferred targets to Chelsea.

Conte's exit also needs to be formalised, with a possible £9m bill required to remove their Premier League and FA Cup-winning coach. His relationship with the several players and the club's director Marina Granovskaia are thought to be two of the main factors behind his removal, rather than the fifth-place finish in the league last season.

Chelsea have alternative options in place should the talks with Sarri collapse, with Laurent Blanc likely to be the next in line to take charge.