Chelsea, not Man City, nearing deal with Jorginho - Napoli chief
Chelsea are close to completing a €65 million (£57.5m) combined deal to appoint Maurizio Sarri as their new head coach and sign Italy international midfielder Jorginho, Napoli chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis said.
Sarri has been Chelsea's top choice to replace Antonio Conte for months and they have been trying to extricate the 59-year-old from his contractual obligation to Napoli since late May without success, with De Laurentiis holding out for a reported €8m (£7m) in compensation.
A breakthrough in talks came when Chelsea indicated a willingness to beat Manchester City's offer for Jorginho, the midfield playmaker who was integral to Napoli's Serie A title challenge under Sarri last season and the thrilling style of football that won them admirers across Europe.
"[Sarri to Chelsea] is about to happen, it just depends on him," De Laurentiis said after a news conference to introduce Carlo Ancelotti as Sarri's replacement. "My lawyers have written up the paperwork which has been passed on to his lawyers and now we'll just have to see.
"Although I consider [Jorginho] a great player, for Ancelotti's style of play and in view of the [lack of] credibility from the Chinese for [Marek] Hamsik, we've decided to accept the request which first came from Manchester City, and I have to apologise to them.
"I'd agreed a deal with them a fortnight ago, resolving various issues, but the player prefers London to Manchester and I can understand him, and then Chelsea are going to pay him more so I can understand him even more and I can't do anything about it.
"Jorginho joining Chelsea does not depend on Sarri [joining Chelsea]."
Footage of Jorginho ready to board a plane from Naples to London circulated on social media on Wednesday morning, and Chelsea are expected to confirm the deal as soon as an agreement is reached with Conte over a severance package.
Conte returned to Cobham to lead Chelsea's preseason training on Monday as uncertainty about his future continued to swirl.
He is refusing to walk away from his job unless the final year of his contract -- reportedly worth around £9m -- is paid in full.
Jorginho would become Chelsea's first signing of a summer in which the prolonged uncertainty regarding Conte and Sarri has had a paralysing effect on their dealings in the transfer market.
Meanwhile, sources close to the club have told ESPN FC that Chelsea are set to hand highly rated midfielder Mason Mount a new deal before sending him on loan to Derby.
ESPN FC Italy correspondent Ben Gladwell and Peter O'Rourke contributed to this report.