If you want to gauge the distance in the relationship between Antonio Conte and Chelsea you only have to read the official Blues statement on his departure.
After axing the Italian manager, and with former Napoli head coach Maurizio Sarri expected to arrive at Stamford Bridge any time soon, here is what the club’s hierarchy sanctioned as a release on the affair:
“Chelsea Football Club and Antonio Conte have parted company. During Antonio’s time at the club, we won our sixth league title and eighth FA Cup. In the title winning season, the club set a then-record 30 wins in a 38-game Premier League season, as well as a club-record 13 consecutive league victory. We wish Antonio every success in his future career.”
Yes, it’s polite and concludes with best wishes but the conciseness tells so much more. Another big factor in the wording is the fact that there are no thanks for his efforts in the Chelsea hotseat. That said, there are so many more “thanks” to be had in the supposed pay out that Conte got; the slight matter of around £9million. Nice work if you can get it.
At least former skipper and club legend John Terry has been complimentary about the outgoing boss. Terry, who played his last season at the Blues under Conte, said on Instagram:
“Love this man. Thanks for everything Boss. In a time that should have been the most difficult season of my career, Antonio was honest, respectful and there for me whenever I needed him. I loved working and learning from him.”
Sarri, when rather than if he is appointed, will become the club’s ninth full-time boss since Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought the club in back in 2003.
One former Chelsea player who says Sarri is a shoo-in is ex-keeper Mark Bosnich, who says the players will find it odd that Conte was taking them for training one minute and the next he was gone.
“It’s going to be strange for the players, because you’ve got your manager who’s turned up on the first day of pre-season, and then maybe a week later there’s somebody else coming in. But it’s inevitable that Sarri will come in.”
One of the first issues that Sarri will no doubt have to deal with is the future of arguably Chelsea’s best player, Eden Hazard. He is said to be of massive interest to Champions League holders Real Madrid and there appears to be a strong chance of him moving to the Spanish giants.
Madrid are cash-rich after selling Cristiano Ronaldo to June for near on £100million and reports suggest they would be happy parting with half of that figure again to land the Belgium star — £150million could well see him pitch up at the Bernabeu.
Chelsea man a reported key target. The club won’t let him go without a fight, of course. They have been trying to talk him in to penning s new deal for the best part of a year and will stretch their wages budget to around £300,000 a week if it means the diminutive playmaker will stay.