Antonio Conte is facing fresh scrutiny over his Chelsea future following the departure of 'major ally' Michael Emenalo.
The Italian has constantly had to bat away questions over how long he plans to remain at Stamford Bridge, and those queries will only intensify with Emenalo leaving west London.
The Sun has reported that Emenalo, who was the club's technical director for a decade, was considered a key ally of Conte's before he was informed that his services were no longer required.
Emenalo was reportedly the man who earmarked Conte - who has been 'rocked' by Emenalo quitting the club - as the manager to replace the sacked Jose Mourinho 18 months ago, and he had been in charge of the vast majority of Chelsea's transfer dealings over the past six years.
The 52-year-old was, however, thought to have butted heads with the club's hierarchy over Conte's management style and, in particular, with chief executive Marina Granovskaia over the 47-year-old's time at the helm of the first team.
Michael Emenalo:— Con (@ConnCFC) November 6, 2017
- Hazard £32m
- Courtois £7m
- Christensen Free
- Chelsea's academy & loan system
Least he did "some" good at Chelsea..
Senior club sources are alleged to have told The Sun that very few people were surprised at Emenalo's exit, and the Nigerian's departure could only add further fuel to the fire that Conte's time in charge could be up relatively soon.
Conte has had to battle conjecture over his possible return to his homeland after he admitted at the start of the season that he would like to return to Italy in the near future.
The Blues boss vented his frustration at the media's constant digs when asked about the potential return of Carlo Ancelotti to the Premier League champions - his compatriot supposedly being in the running to take over from Conte if he is sacked at any point.
Emenalo's exit will only lead to further stories being fabricated in the press in the coming days, and will do little to end rumours about Conte being let go if Roman Abramovich gets an itchy trigger finger.