International

Sarri to replace Benitez

2015-06-09 09:40
Napoli celebrate (AFP)

Milan - Former Empoli handler Maurizio Sarri will officially become Napoli's coach after agreeing terms with the Serie A club's president Aurelio De Laurentiis to replace Spaniard Rafael Benitez, reports said Monday.

Negotiations between Sarri and De Laurentiis were held on Monday and the 56-year-old coach is expected to "sign his contract on Tuesday", according to Sky Sport.

Sarri has reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with another year's option if targets are met, and will earn 1.5m euros a season, five times his salary at Empoli.

For fans of the Partenopei, who have finished second (2013), third (2014) and fifth (2015) in successive seasons, it represents a trip into uncharted waters if Sarri is officially confirmed.

Empoli, whom Sarri led into Serie A at the second attempt in 2014, finished only eight points above the Serie A drop zone but the unfashionable Tuscans impressed on occasion and much of the plaudits landed on their wily coach.

Empoli notably beat Palermo (3-0) and Lazio (2-1) at home, and away held Napoli (2-2), Fiorentina (1-1), Roma (1-1) and AC Milan (1-1) to draws.

Sarri, usually unshaven, is known for his trademark tracksuits and smoking the odd cigarette on the touchlines but he has also earned respect for a tactical approach which exploits set-pieces and dead-ball situations.

Benitez left the Serie A club last week after failing to secure third place and entry to the qualifying playoffs for next season's Champions League, and has since signed for Real Madrid.

One of Sarri's first tasks, if the reports are confirmed, will be to restore confidence ahead of a season that will see Napoli participate in the Europa League, having lost out in last season's semi-finals to unheralded Ukrainian side Dnipro.

There also remain doubts on the intentions of the club's star player, Gonzalo Higuain, with reports linking the Argentina striker with a move to England.

Read more on:    napoli  |  serie a  |  rafael benitez  |  soccer
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