Chelsea have reportedly sacked Antonio Conte as they move a step closer to finally ending the managerial saga that has been bubbling since the latter stages of last season.
Chelsea have been desperately trying to negotiate a deal for ex-Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri at the same time as attempting to deal with the delicate Conte situation, with the club liable to pay out up to £9m in compensation for terminating his contract 12 months early.
Now, reports from Italy have begun to emerge suggesting that the deed is done and Conte will no longer be standing on the sidelines at Stamford Bridge.
Assuming the information is accurate, it should only be a matter of time before Sarri is formally appointed after Chelsea were able to at last reach an agreement over compensating Napoli - that is despite the club replacing him with Carlo Ancelotti before serious talks with Chelsea.
The way that Napoli have handled the Maurizio Sarri/Chelsea saga has been ridiculous, rather underhand and ultimately quite genius.— Jamie Spencer (@jamiespencer155) July 11, 2018
Replacing a manager but not actually terminating his contract to release him because you know you can still command a sizeable compensation fee.
Conte delivered a Premier League title in stunning fashion in 2016/17, but relations between the coach and his Stamford Bridge bosses are thought to have been strained for many months, largely as a result of disagreements over transfer policy and level of control.
Conte's Chelsea could only finish fifth in the Premier League this season, missing out on the Champions League for the second time in three seasons and throwing further uncertainty onto the future of several key players, including Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard.