Chelsea target opens door to replacing Antonio Conte

Maurizio Sarri has dropped a strong hint that his time at Napoli is drawing to a close amid reports suggesting he will leave the Serie A club.

The 59-year-old coach has been linked with Premier League side Chelsea, who are managed by his fellow Italian Antonio Conte, and talks over a new contract at Napoli have stalled in recent weeks.

Club president Aurelio De Laurentiis said this weekend that "time is up" for the Naples-born tactician to make a decision over his future at the Stadio San Paolo.

Following Sunday’s 2-1 home victory over Crotone, which saw the Azzurri end the season with 91 points but finish as runners-up to Juventus, Sarri told La Gazzetta dello Sport: "Everything in life ends and it is better to finish things after writing a beautiful story.

"I don’t know if I will stay, I have to talk about it with my family.

"The situation is complicated. You can’t say you’re ready to go and try again with this squad when you don’t know that everyone will remain here. I don’t know if the club will manage to keep the players who have release clauses when offers will come in from big clubs.

"What I do think is that I could not go directly to another Italian team, and that if I had to make a change I would prefer to go abroad."

Napoli led the championship at certain times during the recently-concluded campaign and were only cut adrift by champions Juve over the final few fixtures, with the final gap standing at four points.

Former Empoli boss Sarri, who joined Napoli in June 2015, added: "We devoted so much to getting more than 90 points and until now that’s all I’d been thinking about.

"Tomorrow (Monday) I will talk to my family and work out what is the best thing to do. I know the president needs an answer from me as soon as possible as he needs to plan."

On Sunday De Laurentiis had told "Is Sarri staying? You’ll have to ask him. He’s never wanted to answer, always leaving it to his agent.

"For me the deadline has passed, time is up. We have to move forward. I’m not saying he’ll leave but there is a release clause and we’ll see what happens."

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