Chelsea officials are keen on bringing Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri to Stamford Bridge if manager Antonio Conte leaves the Blues before his contract expires, according to reports.
Football Italia claims Conte's relationship with the Chelsea hierarchy has broken down, with club chiefs now working towards an approach for the Napoli coach.
Sarri's Napoli are second in Serie A, one point behind Inter Milan, with his possession-based style of football winning admirers from around the world.
The 58-year-old has a release clause in his contract with Napoli worth €7.5m (£6.7m), with Chelsea reportedly willing to pay him a salary of around €12m per year.
Conte signed an improved two-year contract at Stamford Bridge in July, but the deal did not extend the former Italy manager's commitment to the club.
He has been linked with a return to Italian football at the end of this season amid dissatisfaction at the level of support he has received from the Blues board.
The Times reported earlier this month that the 48-year-old had "seriously considered" leaving his job in the summer following disputes with Chelsea officials over transfers and the promotion of academy players.
Separate reports surfaced last week suggesting that some Chelsea players were unhappy with Conte's physically-demanding training schedule and were concerned that the heavy workload was exacerbating the squad's injury problems.
The defending Premier League champions have made a stuttering start to the season and were on a three-game winless run before they came from behind to beat Watford 4-2 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, 21 October.
The Chelsea managerial position is the first foreign job of Conte's career, with the former Italy midfielder having coached the likes of Arezzo, Bari, Atalanta and Juventus before serving as coach of the Italy national team from 2014 to 2016.
AC Milan could offer Conte a route back into Serie A amid mounting concerns at San Siro over the reign of Vincenzo Montella.