Chelsea new boss: All about the smoking ex-banker

EPL By: Ambrose Udeme | 13/07/2018

Chelsea is close to finalising a deal for Maurizio Sarri to replace Antonio Conte after Napoli's president Aurelio De Laurentiis announced on Wednesday that the 59-year old manager is close to being new Chelsea manager.

The Italian will take over as the new Chelsea boss, signing a two-year deal with an option for a third should he last that long under the notoriously trigger-happy Roman Abramovich.

Reports have it that a compensation settlement between the outgoing manager Antonio Conte and the Serie A club is set to be agreed on Wednesday afternoon - prompting Chelsea to bring to an end Conte's two seasons at Stamford Bridge.

Here are some things you might not know about him.

His work as a banker took him around Europe

Forced to quit his playing career early on, Sarri took a job at Italy's Monte dei Paschi di Siena bank, who sent him off to work for them in London, Zurich, Frankfurt and Luxembourg.

He enjoyed his work, but his obsession with football ensured that he kept up an amateur coaching job, but he's claimed that banking helped him in the role that has always been his passion.

Never managed in top-flight football until 2014

After a successful amateur coaching career in Tuscany turned him towards the professional game, he took up roles with several pro and semi-pro clubs in Italy's lower leagues, sometimes for just mere months at a time.

He passed through Pescara, Arezzo, Avellino, Hellas Verona, Perugia, Alessandria and Sorrento before getting the Empoli job in 2012 and taking them up to Serie A two years later. They finished 15th in his first ever top-flight season.

He was once labelled "a racist and a homophobe"

Sarri was fined €20,000 and given a two-game ban after being found guilty of aiming a homophobic insult at Mancini during a Coppa Italia game, with the ex-Manchester City boss also claiming that Sarri used racist words.

"In England, someone like him wouldn't even be allowed on the touchline." said then Inter Milan boss Roberto Mancini after a heated exchange with Sarri in 2016. But it appears he's about to be proved wrong.

RB Leipzig built him his own smoking area

Famously, Sarri is something of a chain-smoker - or as his former Napoli captain, Marek Hamsik once put it, a "passionate" one. German side RB Leipzig even built a custom area for him in the away dressing room of their ground for their Europa League clash last season to allow him to indulge.

Pep Guardiola's a big fan

Sarri will at least have one fan in England, regardless of his controversial ways. Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola called the Italian's Napoli "one of the best sides I've ever faced as a professional" after their meetings in the Champions League last year, and so their contests in the new campaign are sure to be special ones.