Chelsea make contact with Napoli over Victor Osimhen after Antonio Conte appointment

Victor Osimhen is expected to leave Napoli this summer. (Image: Getty)

Chelsea are set to avoid some awkward negotiations with former manager Antonio Conte despite wanting to sign Victor Osimhen this summer. The Napoli striker has been heavily linked with the London club, as well as host of other European giants having scored 48 times for the Serie A side in the past two seasons.

He cemented himself in club folklore in the 2022/23 campaign, with his 26 league goals helping fire his club to a first domestic title in 33 years.

In December, amid speculation over his future, he signed a new contract with the club – although it was seemingly designed as a safeguard against Napoli losing him on a cut price deal with a £115million release clause inserted.

But according to HITC, that price tag has now deterred Chelsea from making a move. The Premier League club have reportedly informed Napoli that they are not prepared to trigger the clause, with owner Aurelio De Laurentiis reluctant to sell for anything less.

The development comes in the same week that it was confirmed that Antonio Conte would be taking over at the Italian club. The 54-year-old managed for two seasons at Stamford Bridge between 2016 and 2018, winning a Premier League title in his maiden season in charge, but despite winning the FA Cup in his second campaign left in acrimonious circumstances.

Chelsea, who are set to confirm Leicester boss Enzo Maresca as their successor to Mauricio Pochettino, are openly searching for a new striker. Nicolas Jackson has struggled since his move from Villarreal and Romelu Lukkau is set to leave the club permanently this summer.

Antonio Conte has taken over at Napoli. (Image: Getty)

But following the lavish spending of owner Todd Boehly, the London club are also wary of Financial Fair Play regulations. And they will need to make player sales before spending in excess of three figures on a single transfer deal.

Now, it’s PSG emerging as the favourites to sign Nigerian striker Osimhen. The Parisian giants are in the midst of a rebuild with Kylian Mbappe having confirmed he’s played his last game for the club, with the striker expected to join Real Madrid this month.

However, the Ligue 1 champions are also said to be put off by the price. Saudi Pro League chiefs have also been linked given the finances of the deal would not be an issue, but at 25, Osimhen is unlikely to want to move to the Middle East in the prime of his career.

His future became the subject of intense speculation in September after he fell out with his club over a social media post. After missing a penalty, he was mocked by the official Napoli accounts, with the club later forced into an apology.

“On social media, and TikTok particularly, expressive language is used in a light-hearted and playful manner. In this case involving Victor there was no intention of mockery or derision,” the said in a released statement. “If Victor was in any way offended, this was not at all in the club’s intentions.”