Sarri the front-runner for Chelsea job as Conte edges closer to exit

Maurizio Sarri Antonio Conte Napoli Chelsea 2017-18
The Blues remain keen on replacing their current manager with another Italian coach, who is looking to move on from Napoli

Chelsea remain keen to replace Antonio Conte with Napoli's Maurizio Sarri and it is increasingly a matter of when, rather than if, the Italian leaves Stamford Bridge, Goal understands.

Sarri is keen for a move to Chelsea and his enthusiasm for the job has allowed him to become the front-runner ahead of former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique, whose higher wage demands make him a tougher appointment.

Zenit St Petersburg have also made an offer to Sarri, but he is delaying his response in the hope that officials at Stamford Bridge activate his £7 million ($9.3m) release clause.

Napoli chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis is already in talks with Carlo Ancelotti to replace Sarri at the Stadio San Paolo after failing to receive an answer following post-season talks to renew the 59-year-old's contract.

In addition to Sarri, Chelsea have also been linked with Fulham's Slavisa Jokanovic but he appears to be an outsider for the job, while Monaco have confirmed that Leonardo Jardim will stay in his post, despite Portuguese super-agent Jorge Mendes taking an interest in placing him at a new club.

Meanwhile, the confirmation that Conte will leave Chelsea is imminent, despite his FA Cup final win at Wembley last Saturday against Jose Mourinho's Manchester United.

Conte's exit from Chelsea after winning two trophies in two seasons is due to fraught relationships with the club's board, and he has also left some of his squad feeling either unhappy or indifferent towards him.

Antonio Conte Chelsea

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Gary Cahill and Thibaut Courtois have admitted that the speculation around Conte’s future had unsettled the team's efforts to qualify for the Champions League after Chelsea missed out on a top-four finish.

Former Juventus coach Conte will be due a £9m pay-out for the duration of his contract upon his departure from Chelsea, but that will stop if he takes another managerial role.

However, with there currently no suitable vacancies for Conte, the Italian may decide to take a break once his Chelsea departure is confirmed.