Chelsea’s board met after the Blues’ latest poor result against West Ham to discuss the future of under-pressure manager Antonio Conte, according to reports.
The soon-to-be-dethroned Premier League champions succumbed to a 1-1 draw against David Moyes’ side on Sunday, leaving them 10 points adrift of Tottenham in fourth place.
It compounds a miserable season for Conte and his men, who also lost to Arsenal in the Carabao Cup semi-finals and exited the Champions League at the last-16 stage against Barcelona.
And now the Daily Mail report that Chelsea’s board have spoken again about Conte’s future and are hoping that he quits this summer rather than forcing them to fire him.
The players now expect the Italian coach to leave this summer – which has prompted fears they could down tools for the remainder of the season – but the board are weighing up how long they can wait to see if he quits first.
Conte agreed a new contract last summer increasing his pay, though the length of the deal – which has one more year to run – remained the same.
If Chelsea are to fire him, they would have to pay off the remainder of his £9million a year deal, though they would rather another club swooped in to poach him instead.
Conte is not short of admirers, though his options have been reduced after Paris Saint-Germain appeared to strike a deal for Thomas Tuchel and Gennaro Gattuso was handed a long-term deal at AC Milan.
Even if Conte does not mutually agree to leave at the end of the summer, there is a growing sense among Chelsea board that – particularly after the West Ham result – he needs to go.
Chelsea players convinced major departure is on the cards this summer
Chelsea players are reportedly under no illusions that Antonio Conte is set to leave his position as Blues manager at the end of this season.
Things have taken another turn for the worse for the Italian tactician following yet another poor performance and result in the 1-1 draw with West Ham at the weekend.
Chelsea are now on a run of just three wins in their last eleven Premier League matches, leaving them ten points behind fourth-placed Tottenham with just six games to go.
This means the west London giants are more than likely to miss out on Champions League football for a second time in three seasons in what looks like becoming a spectacular collapse given the success of Conte last season.
Player performances have dipped significantly and the Daily Mail suggest this is to do with the fact that the feeling is their manager’s days at Stamford Bridge are numbered.
It is not yet clear if Conte will quit the club or be sacked, but the Mail suggest that his position is now under greater scrutiny again after the West Ham result.
This could mean that the former Juventus boss will be forced out before the end of the season as the club may look to make a change in hope of salvaging something from the campaign.
Chelsea are in the semi-finals of the FA Cup so could still walk away with silverware this term, though not if they play like they have in recent weeks.