Zola denies he will join Sarri at Chelsea next season

Antonio Conte's Chelsea future is in doubt, but reports Maurizio Sarri is off to Stamford Bridge have been rubbished by Gianfranco Zola.

Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri   -  Getty Images

Gianfranco Zola has denied reports he will move to former club Chelsea next season as an assistant to proposed new coach Maurizio Sarri.

Incumbent Antonio Conte has regularly indicated he intends to see out his Blues contract, which runs to 2019, but a substandard Premier League title defence may deny the Italian the opportunity.

With Napoli flying high at the top of Serie A, outspoken coach Sarri has been tipped to succeed Conte at Stamford Bridge.

Reports in Italy have indicated Zola, who played for Chelsea between 1996 and 2003, winning two FA Cups, would return to west London as Sarri's assistant.

But Zola - out of work since leaving Birmingham City in April 2017 - denied he and Sarri have been approached about moving to Chelsea at the end of the season.

"One week there is and one week there isn't something linking me with Chelsea," Zola told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"But I know nothing about this hypothesis. Besides, after Birmingham I've taken a year out."

However, with Sarri's side a point clear of defending champions Juventus in Serie A, Zola is highly impressed with his fellow Italian.

"Napoli play like clockwork," said Zola, a Scudetto winner in 1989-90 at the club. "They have tactics and moves which you can do little to defend against.

"The way they play the ball around reminds me of [Diego] Maradona and Careca and the Napoli of my playing days.

"I think this is the year for them to win the Scudetto. Napoli can win it this season - and they would deserve it."

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