Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has described former technical director Michael Emenalo's departure from the Stamford Bridge side as a "big loss."
The manager, who was speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of the Blues' weekend clash with West Bromwich Albion, was reported as having a frosty relationship with Emenalo after the summer's transfer failures. However, since the latter's resignation, it has been revealed that the former technical director was actually one of the Italian's biggest allies at the club.
Conte admitted that he was surprised by Emenalo's decision to quit the club after 10 years of service, but also said that the choice is to be respected.
"For sure this is a big loss for us," Conte said (via football.london). "With Michael our relationship was very good, he helped me a lot this season. For sure it was a surprise for me that he resigned.
"At the same time we have to respect his decision and professional decision. I wish for him and his family the best for the present and future."
Conte says for sure the departure of Michael Emenalo is a big loss. He adds that their relationship was good and Emenalo was a big help. It was a surprise but he respects his decision.— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) November 17, 2017
"I have had the privilege to work alongside some of the most talented people in the world of sport over the past 10 years, and I will depart incredibly proud of the achievements we have made," Emenalo said in a statement after announcing his decision to quit Chelsea earlier this month.
"I wish Chelsea every success and look forward to following the club's future triumphs from afar."
The Blues are yet to appoint a new technical director in the wake of the Nigerian's exit, but reports have linked club legend Frank Lampard with the now vacant post.
There are also claims of Roman Abramovich considering erasing the position at Chelsea altogether in order to take a more 'hands on' role at the club.