’No Conte Exit Talks’, Say Chelsea

Chelsea Football Club have been forced to deny reports that Antonio Conte is set to leave the club after bookmakers suspended betting on the Italian departing West London on Thursday.

Chelsea confirmed on the 4th of April this year that Conte would take over as manager for the 2016-2017 season, though he didn’t actually arrive at Stamford Bridge until after he had led the Italian national team to the European Championships in France this summer. Now the Blues have dismissed reports that he will be leaving his post after just three months in charge as ‘absolute nonsense’.

The 47-year-old signed a contract that will keep him at Chelsea until 2019, though the club’s owner Roman Abramovich is known to not give much credence to contracts when it comes to his managers. Numerous Chelsea bosses have lasted just eight months in the job, including the likes of André Villas-Boas and Luis Philippe Scolari. José Mourinho has also been sacked by the Russian on two separate occasions; most recently in December of last year after the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ led the club to its worst start to a top-flight campaign in fifty years.

Conte won his first three games as Chelsea manager but endured a difficult September. The Blues drew 2-2 with Swansea City at the start of the month before losing 2-1 to Liverpool at Stamford Bridge. They did beat Leicester City in the EFL Cup but needed extra-time to do so, going in 2-0 down at half-time. They then lost 3-0 to London rivals Arsenal at The Emirates, meaning that they ended the month without a win in normal time and with only one point from a possible nine in the Premier League.

The performances of the former champions have left a lot to be desired, leading to the rumours that Abramovich is considering replacing the Italian already. In the wake of Chelsea’s 2-1 home loss to Liverpool the club had to deny that the Russian held late-night talks with his directors about the future of Conte. That came on the back of rumours that the former Italy national coach was unhappy that the Blues had failed to sign some of the players he wanted in the summer.

In spite of that Chelsea spent around £116 million during the summer. They brought in N’Golo Konte from the defending Premier League champions Leicester, Michy Batshuayi from Marseille as well as Marcos Alonso and they re-signed David Luiz from Paris Saint-Germain.

With Chelsea going up against the Foxes in the lunchtime kickoff this Saturday it’s fair to say that another home loss would see Antonio Conte coming under increasing pressure. The Italian led Juventus to three back-to-back Serie A titles from 2011 to 2014. He also helped Italy to qualify for the European Championships without losing a single game during the qualifying phase. Yet if the Blues lose again before the year is out then they may struggle to finish in the top four, let alone challenge for the title. That is the sort of failure that Roman Abramovich is not keen to witness.