Chelsea's hopes of coming to a mutual split with manager Antonio Conte have reportedly taken a major blow following Julen Lopetegui's decision to take over at Real Madrid.
Lopetegui was announced as Zinedine Zidane's successor at the Bernabeu on Tuesday, leading to him being sensationally sacked by Spain on the eve of the World Cup after he failed to inform the Spanish FA about his impending appointment.
The Spaniard's move to Madrid means that there are no longer any big vacancies left available, all but ruling out the prospect of Conte leaving Chelsea for another club in a mutual agreement.
The Telegraph reports that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich must now decide whether to sack Conte - which would cost him up to £9m in compensation - or allow the Italian to see out the final year of his contract at Stamford Bridge.
Conte has made it clear that he will not step down from his role at Stamford Bridge, despite a number of clashes with the board during a 2017-18 campaign which saw Chelsea finish fifth in the Premier League but win the FA Cup.
Abramovich is still expected to sack Conte, with Maurizio Sarri still understood to be his preferred replacement, but he must now come to terms with the fact that any change of manager will be an expensive and complicated one.
Sarri remains under contract at Napoli despite the Italian club appointing Carlo Ancelotti last month, and it could cost around £3.5m to prise him away from the Serie A runners-up.