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BREAKING: Chelsea Sack Antonio Conte

Chelsea have sacked manager Antonio Conte.

The Italian was informed of his departure on Thursday, with former Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri set to replace him.

Conte was appointed as Chelsea manager in the summer of 2016, leaving his role as Italy head coach to take the job at Stamford Bridge.

He enjoyed a hugely successful first season in English football, leading the London club to the Premier League title.

However, the Blues mounted a miserable defence of their title last season, finishing fifth.

They did end the 2017/18 campaign on a high by winning the FA Cup but there was intense speculation over Conte’s future throughout the campaign.

The 48-year-old is understood to have angered the Chelsea hierarchy with critical comments about the club’s recruitment policy.

Conte returned to Chelsea’s training ground on Monday for the start of pre-season and has been putting the squad through their paces all this week.

But he was summoned to a meeting on Thursday and told his services are no longer required.

Former Napoli boss Sarri is expected to be appointed as his successor.

Sarri led Napoli to a record points total last season as they finished a narrow second in Serie A behind champions Juventus.

But he was replaced as manager of the Italian club by Carlo Ancelotti in May.

Despite being axed by Napoli, Sarri remained under contract with the club and they have been seeking a compensation figure from Chelsea to allow him to join the Blues.

Their president Aurelio de Laurentiis revealed on Wednesday that an agreement was close.

“We are in the finishing line,” said De Laurentiis. “Now it depends on [Sarri] and Chelsea.

“The Sarri affair is nearly at its conclusion, it all depends on him. My lawyers have submitted papers to his lawyers.”

The agreement with Chelsea now looks to have been finalised, with Conte’s exit paving the way for Sarri to take over at Stamford Bridge.

Gianfranco Zola is being linked with a return to Chelsea as part of the backroom staff.

Sarri is also set to be followed from Napoli by midfielder Jorginho.

The Italy international was wanted by Manchester City but De Laurentiis claimed on Wednesday the 26-year-old would prefer to live in London and would be moving to Chelsea in a deal worth in excess of £50million.

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