Massive blow for Arsenal as reports confirm Chelsea in talks to seal early deal

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Chelsea and Arsenal have been handed a boost in their pursuit of Maurizio Sarri as Napoli’s president is actively looking to replace the 59-year-old, according to reports in Italy.

Sarri is reportedly high on Arsenal’s shortlist of candidates to replace Arsene Wenger as the Gunners hierarchy have been impressed with the Italian’s playing style at Napoli.

But reports have also claimed that Chelsea have held talks with Sarri’s representative over a deal to replace Antonio Conte at the end of the season.

Il Mattino now claims that Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis is already considering the prospect of Sarri leaving this summer and is lining up potential replacements.

The Naples-based newspaper claims the Napoli chief has spoken to Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez about returning to the club.

Benitez spent two years in charge at Napoli, winning the Coppa Italia in 2014, and the report claims that the 58-year-old was ‘perplexed’ by De Laurentiis’ approach but didn’t turn down the proposition.

Sarri, meanwhile, has a clause in his contract with Napoli which would allow him to leave if Chelsea pay €8 million (£7m).

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