Chelsea have held talks with former Paris Saint-Germain and France manager Laurent Blanc as the club continues their search to replace Antonio Conte this summer.
It had been reported that the Blues were on the brink of appointing Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri this summer, with the 59-year-old supposedly agreeing to a two-year contract which would see him earn £5.5m in wages at Stamford Bridge.
But Chelsea have been stalling over the £7m release clause they would have to pay Napoli to acquire Sarri's signature, with their deal now believed to be on the brink of collapse.
Napoli chief Aurelio De Laurentiis slammed Chelsea's approach for Sarri, who has since been replaced by ex-Blues manager Carlo Ancelotti at the Stadio San Paolo, and insisted that the Serie A side will not change their firm stance over the release clause.
"I don’t give anyone discounts and no-one has called me about the clause in Sarri’s contract," De Laurentiis said on Tuesday, quoted by the Express. "This was a clause put in his contract when it was renewed and his salary increased - so now it is going to be paid.
"When I modify a contract, it is with an agreement. I inserted the clause, and it has to be honoured. Now the clause is not valid? I don’t like this one-sided idea."
It has been Chelsea's stalling attempt to appoint Sarri this summer which has seen the club step up their interest in other targets this summer.
And France Football (via the Metro) claims that director Marina Granovskaia has already held talks with Blanc over his appointment in west London.
But Sarri remains the favourite to succeed Conte this summer, with Blanc understood to be lined up purely as a precautionary measure.