Antonio Conte’s beleaguered Chelsea spell came to an end on Friday, with former Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri expected to take the reins at Stamford Bridge.
Former Italy coach Conte, 48, lifted the Premier League title with the Blues last season before Eden Hazard and company contrived to miss out on the Champions League positions this time around.
That poor form, plus increasing speculation of a divided dressing room, saw Roman Abramovich finally pull the trigger on Conte’s time at Stamford Bridge.
A brief clubs statement said: ‘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 victories.
‘We wish Antonio every success in his future career.’
Chelsea Football Club and Antonio Conte have parted company. https://t.co/JOpsPD4dmN
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) July 13, 2018
Sarri’s expected arrival is also expected to see him bring Napoli midfielder Jorginho to the club, with the Blues shaking off interest from Manchester City and Pep Guardiola.
Sarri, who helped Napoli mount a sustained Serie A title challenge last season, is set to manage the Blues in the forthcoming season.
The 59-year-old was in charge of the Naples side between 2015-18 and was named Serie A manager of the year in 2016-17.
He finished no lower than third in each of his seasons at the club, bringing in an attacking style of football after Rafa Benitez’s time at Napoli saw a more defensive style dominate.
Conte’s turbulent time in west London has been almost constantly afflicted by rumours of discontent.
In a summer of heavy spending, he brought the enigmatic David Luiz back to Chelsea for an eye-watering fee, before splashing out on Leicester’s midfield maestro N’Golo Kante.
Those two helped him reclaim the Premier League title for the Blues in 2016-17, but behind the scenes Conte was never satisfied with his level of influence in Chelsea’s transfer dealings.
At the end of their title-winning season, the fiery manager supposedly told Diego Costa – who bagged 27 goals for club and country – he was no longer needed at Chelsea via text message.
The club then lost out on sealing a return for Romelu Lukaku in the summer of 2017 after being increasingly confident they had won the race for his signature.
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Lukaku chose Manchester United and Jose Mourinho at the eleventh hour, which subsequently forced Chelsea into a big-money move for Real Madrid man Alvaro Morata.
But Morata has been plagued by inconsistency and the Stamford Bridge club subsequently sold Costa back to Atletico Madrid after the forward refused to play under Conte.
The former Juventus title-winner has been keeping an eye on the exit door ever since, although he was pipped to the vacant Italy job by former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini.
And it seems the players have been less than impressed with recent developments, after Willian posted a picture of Chelsea lifting the FA Cup on his Instagram – with Conte hidden behind a series of trophy emojis.
That followed Hazard’s statement that his future in London may depend on the quality of players brought in over the summer.
Chelsea have long deliberated over the removal of their coach, after Yahoo Sport recently revealed he would demand a fee of more than £10million to walk away from his role to fund a sabbatical from football.
The club finally dispatched of his services, with Sarri seen as the ideal replacement to bring success back to Stamford Bridge on a long-term basis.