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Chelsea are closing in on the appointment of Maurizio Sarri as their new manager with club legend Gianfranco Zola lined up as his assistant, sources close to the ex-Napoli boss have told ESPN FC.

Sarri has been Chelsea’s top target to replace Conte all summer and sources have told ESPN FC that progress has been made in talks with Napoli over a compensation fee.

Chelsea’s pursuit of Sarri has been ongoing for several weeks with the two clubs haggling over Sarri’s release clause.

Sarri left Napoli last month after guiding them to second in Serie A, four points behind winners Juventus.

Antonio Conte’s future at Chelsea has been the subject of speculation for several months with it being widely reported that he would be leaving Stamford Bridge this summer.

Conte has one year to run on his contract at Chelsea and the club would have to pay him off if they were to dispense with his services and that has delayed any move for a new manager.

Chelsea are also lining up a move to appoint Zola as Sarri’s assistant to help him settle into English football.

Peter O’Rourke is ESPN FC’s transfer news correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @SportsPeteO.

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