Antonio Conte must walk away from Chelsea this summer
As the Premier League season approaches its conclusion, the reigning champions, after failing to defend the title, now find themselves in a struggle to qualify for the Champions League next season. With Chelsea trailing behind the top four clubs, it could well be time for Antonio Conte to take his talents away from Stamford Bridge.
The Blues are ten points behind Spurs while offering no indication they will close the gap. Then you have Arsenal, who seem to be finishing the season strong; which could well mean the Blues may slip further down the table to sixth; an unusual position for a club with their stature.
The red light has been there, plain for all to see. Conte might be leaving on his own accord this summer, after being left immensely frustrated with the club's transfer policy; preventing him from signing the players he wanted. It was clear that the Italian was desperate to have Romelu Lukaku in his side, but the former Blue left for Manchester United instead. Chelsea had to settle for Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata. The Spaniard has failed to make an impact in South West London thus far, whereas Lukaku has been making waves at Old Trafford.
The issue persisted all through the summer and even extended into January. Chelsea were determined to sign a physically dominating striker that could aid them in the run-in. Eventually, they landed on Olivier Giroud, prising the Frenchman away from Arsenal. The 31-year-old has a good record in the Premier League but he has seen little game time, still sitting behind Morata in the pecking order.
Conte's grudge against the board is not just for incoming players but also for exiting stars. His frustration peaked when Chelsea consented to a deal that saw midfielder Nemanja Matic join Premier League rivals Man United. The Serb has been an integral cog in Jose Mourinho's team, while his absence has created a glaringly obvious vacuum beside N’Golo Kante.
However, Conte is partly to blame for the subpar performances his team has churned out. Don't forget he drove Diego Costa out of Stamford Bridge following several bust-ups with the Italian mastermind. The Spanish international was their hitman, their leader, their inspiration. Costa was a huge influence during Chelsea’s title-winning campaign. His goals simply haven't been replaced.
It is also clear Conte has lost passion for the club’s success. The former Juventus manager has been a shadow of himself from just twelve months ago. The spirit seems dead. The drive and desire have gone. He is acting like a man who knows he'll be elsewhere next term.
Many a club will be interested in Conte when his time at the South London club comes to an end; a career move he simply has to make. He could return to his job as the Italy manager, but with Chelsea eyeing a move for Juventus gaffer Max Allegri, a return to Turin could be another possibility. Whatever happens, Chelsea's personal managerial merry-go-round looks set to continue once again.