CHELSEA fans were left shocked on Saturday as a leaked picture emerged of Antonio Conte at the club’s training ground.
— Chelsea Blue Blood (@BloodPena) July 7, 2018
The Blues are in crisis at present as they begin their pre-season preparations at Cobham.
No new players have arrived at Chelsea since the opening of the transfer window, while confusion still surrounds Conte’s future at the club after a turbulent second season in England.
Despite the Italian’s reluctance to resign, it is fully expected that he will be replaced in west London this summer.
Maurizio Sarri has been the long-time frontrunner to take over at Stamford Bridge, and many expect the former Napoli boss to take charge in the near future.
But as some Chelsea players returned to the club for pre-season, a leaked photograph suggests Conte is going nowhere just yet.
The picture, shared on social media, shows Conte and his coaching staff posing at Cobham.
However, Chelsea were careful not to share any pictures of the former Juventus boss on their official website.
“The 2018/19 season is up and running!” a post on the club’s Twitter page read.
“Our non-World Cup players returned to Cobham this morning, as pre-season got underway on a scorching day in Surrey.
“With the World Cup still in full flow, the numbers are diminished, but for those players who didn’t feature in Russia there were plenty of smiles on show as they caught up after a few weeks’ break.”
Talks for Sarri to replace Conte at Chelsea are reportedly close to completion.
However, Napoli are still demanding a bigger fee for their former manager, despite already replacing the 59-year-old with Carlo Ancelotti this summer.
Chelsea transfer news: Ruben Loftus-Cheek could leave for one key reason
RUBEN LOFTUS-CHEEK has struggled for opportunities at Chelsea because of Roman Abramovich’s ‘hiring and firing’ managerial policy.
That’s according to Sky Sports reporter Dharmesh Sheth.
The midfielder joined Crystal Palace on loan last season as he desperately sought first-team football and he enjoyed a stunning season at Selhurst Park, playing a pivotal role as they recovered from a nightmare start to avoid relegation.
Loftus-Cheek’s impressive performances earned him a place in England’s World Cup squad and he’s been prominent in the side during the march to the semi-finals.
The 22-year-old’s future is unclear, with Chelsea’s managerial situation clouded in uncertainty.
Loftus-Cheek wants guarantees of regular football and if he isn’t afforded that at Stamford Bridge then he could look elsewhere.
Roy Hodgson has made no secret of his desire to bring the youngster back to Selhurst Park next term, while West Ham and Everton have also expressed an interest.
And Sheth has explained the reasoning behind Loftus-Cheek’s disrupted career, insisting that he wants the security of regular game time.
“It’s very interesting that Chelsea do rate him,” he told the Transfer Talk podcast.
“But every manager that has come in, I think they look at the shelf-life of the manager at Chelsea and think ‘right, do I give these youngsters a chance or do I just get the ready-made article?’
“That’s what’s happened. Maybe it needs a change of tact at Chelsea from the very top to say ‘right, we’ll be patient with you as a manager, we want you to bring these youngsters through’.
“Loftus-Cheek actually has three years left on his contract at Chelsea.
“Reading between the lines, he wants to make base somewhere.
“He doesn’t want to keep going on loan to different clubs, he wants to move to a club who wants him, who will commit to him and say ‘here’s a five-year contract, you’re going to be in the team’.”