Maurizio Sarri agrees to become Chelsea boss, with Gianfranco Zola as assistant

ESPN pundit Stewart Robson

ESPN pundit Stewart Robson

Chelsea have officially announced the departure of Antonio Conte from the Premier League club.

Conte leaves amid reports in the British and Italian media that former Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri will take over at Chelsea for next season.

Conte was reported to have left the club on Thursday, after two seasons at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea began a terse, four-sentence statement on its website, "Chelsea Football Club and Antonio Conte have parted company".

'During Antonio's time at the club, we won our sixth league title and eighth FA Cup.

Only two managers have recorded a better points average than him in the Premier League.

That success was helped by prolific striker Diego Costa, who scored 20 goals and provided eight assists.

As he was still in the final year of a three-season contract, Conte is due a £9m payoff which the club will contest.

The off-field controversies bled onto the pitch and the west Londoners flattered to deceive.

Conte had been expected to go at the end of last season after Chelsea, who won the 2016-17 Premier League title in his stellar first campaign in charge, finished fifth and failed to qualify for the Champions League.

The 46-year-old managed Empoli in the 2016/17 season but could not do enough to prevent the Italian minnows from succumbing to relegation from Serie A. "I wish you every success in the future".

In May, Napoli appointed Carlo Ancelotti to replace Sarri amid speculation that the latter could take the Chelsea job.

Chelsea seeks a 13th permanent manager under Abramovich's ownership, and at possibly the most turbulent period of the Russian billionaire's trophy-filled reign.

The main reason for the prolonged saga has been compensation.

Sarri is believed to have agreed to bring former Chelsea favourite Gianfranco Zola - whose managerial career has stalled after a series of failures - along as one of his backroom staff.

Sarri has also presented a list of players he would like to sign.