2/7/2018 7:54:46 AM

Conte loses plot as Chelsea boss

Conte loses plot as Chelsea boss

London: Less than a year after being hailed as the mastermind of Chelsea's title triumph, Antonio Conte appears destined to become the latest high-profile boss to pay the price for failing to satisfy owner Roman Abramovich.

With fourth-placed Chelsea trailing 19 points behind leaders Manchester City, Abramovich is reported to be considering replacements for Conte, with former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique strongly linked with the job.

The champagne corks had barely finished popping at the end of Chelsea's title celebrations in May before Conte bizarrely lost his cool and set off down a path that now looks certain to end with his exit. 

Misjudging his power base, Conte felt winning the league should allow him much more say in who came and went from his squad -- and first in his sights was notorious malcontent Diego Costa.

Infuriated by Costa's mood swings and an attempt to engineer a move to China, Conte decided to sell the Spain striker even though his goals had been instrumental in the title success.

But he hadn't reckoned on Costa going public with a text message from Conte telling him he is not in his plans for next season, a move that prompted the Chelsea boss to exile his forward from the squad.

The situation quickly disintegrated as Costa refused to train with the reserves, leaving Chelsea struggling to find a buyer.

Abramovich was said to be furious and, although Costa eventually got his wish to join Atletico Madrid, the Italian has been on a collision course with the club's hierarchy ever since.

The breakdown in relations manifested itself in Conte dragging out negotiations over a new contract and when he eventually signed the improved terms, tellingly it didn't include an extension.

 

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