Monday 17 June 2019 08:47, UK
Chelsea have announced that manager Maurizio Sarri has joined Juventus on a three-year contract.
The Italian succeeds Massimiliano Allegri after informing Chelsea, who will get £5m in compensation, of his desire to return to his native country following their triumph in the Europa League.
Sarri's departure is set to pave the way for Frank Lampard to return to Stamford Bridge as boss, with Chelsea expected to approach his current club Derby, who have been trying to offer him a new deal.
Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia has suggested the club could not stand in the way of Sarri's "strong desire" to return to Italy and be closer to his elderly parents.
"In talks we had following the Europa League final, Maurizio made it clear how strongly he desired to return to his native country, explaining that his reasons for wanting to return to work in Italy were significant," she said.
"He also believed it important to be nearer his family, and for the well-being of his elderly parents he felt he needed to live closer to them at this point.
"Maurizio leaves Chelsea with thanks from us all for the work he and his assistants did during the season he spent as our head coach, and for winning the Europa League, guiding us to another cup final and a third-place finish in the Premier League.
"We would also like to congratulate him on securing the role as big as any in Serie A and to wish him the best of luck for the future."
Sarri leaves Chelsea after just one season in which they finished third in the Premier League - restoring the club's place in the Champions League - and secured the 60-year-old's first major trophy as a manager.
This is despite Blues fans expressing their discontent at his 'Sarri-ball' tactics and team selections, notably during the 2-0 home defeat to Manchester United in the FA Cup in February.
Zola, 52, returned to Chelsea last summer on a one-year deal to work alongside Sarri.
It is believed a club ambassador role has been offered to Zola but the Italian would prefer to continue coaching and is unlikely to accept the position.
Whoever takes over at Stamford Bridge will not be able to sign any new players, with Chelsea's ongoing FIFA transfer ban which is pending an appeal lodged with the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Harry Redknapp - Lampard's uncle - believes the ex-West Ham and Manchester City player can bring through a new wave of young talent from their academy, however, and will not struggle to exert his authority on the dressing room as a former Chelsea great.
Chelsea will start their 2019/20 Premier League campaign with a clash against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday, August 11, live on Sky Sports, after the fixtures were released on Thursday morning.
Roman Abramovich has never been one for sentimentality - his Chelsea reign is best defined as a ruthless pursuit of success.
But it is impossible not to see sentimentality in the decision to target Frank Lampard as his successor.
The former midfielder has shown managerial promise at Derby, reaching the Championship play-off final in his first season in charge, but it is his storied history with Chelsea that has driven his expected return to Stamford Bridge.
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