Chelsea coach Antonio Conte returns for pre-season training

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Conte is still now in charge, but Maurizio Sarri is expecting to be cleared to replace him as manager of Chelsea at the start of next week.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, after playing against Napoli in last season's Champions League, said: "We faced one of the best sides I faced in my career - probably the best".

Chelsea met De Laurentiis on Monday to thrash out the terms of Sarri's compensation deal to allow him to come to Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea will play their first pre-season friendly of the summer against A-League club Perth Glory on 23rd July, before a trio of International Champions Cup clashes with Inter, Arsenal and Lyon.

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Confirming Chelsea are close to finally making a breakthrough, De Laurentiis said: "The Sarri deal is in the home stretch, it depends on him".

Kovacic, 24, was one of two alternative targets briefed to the press by City in June along with Southampton's Mario Lemina, and despite being less defensive than Jorginho, has the technical attributes Pep Guardiola admires in a player.

"However, if for personal reasons I won't get into, the player prefers to live in London rather than in Manchester, I can understand him".

"I loved working and learning from him".

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Website is reporting that the the Italian boss is still the front-runner to take over from Antonio Conte at Stamford Bridge ahead of next season, despite there having been no official word from Chelsea FC.

"Jorginho and Sarri together again?"

The former Italy manager had a year remaining on his current contract and had already taken charge of pre-season preparations at the club's Cobham training ground.

He can operate in a variety of different midfield roles thanks to his work-rate, and accuracy of passing but is generally seen as a creator.

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And Sarri's transfer wishlist is rounded out by CSKA Moscow's Aleksandr Golovin, whose stock has risen in recent weeks following a sterling World Cup, and young Juventus centre-back Daniele Rugani.