Monday 24 October 2016

Chelsea deny talk that Conte is now in line for early exit

Chelsea’s Willian
Chelsea’s Willian

Antonio Conte still has the trust of Chelsea and is staying as their manager despite sudden speculation he was close to losing his job.

Within minutes of Chelsea announcing a kit deal with Nike that is set to net the club £900million over the next 15 years, the focus turned to Italian Conte.

A sustained and heavy gamble was reported on the former Italy and Juventus boss becoming the next Premier League manager to be ousted from his position.

He went from being an outsider in the market to an odds-on favourite with some bookmakers, while others refused to take any more money.

Yet, it is understood Chelsea remain committed to a future for the team under Conte and were baffled by the suggestion he could be leaving. The club owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich recruited Conte on a three-year contract that began in July, following his Italy team's Euro 2016 quarter-final penalty shoot-out loss to Germany.

Chelsea have experienced a mixed start to Conte's first season in English football, suffering painful early defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal. With 13 points from seven games, they stand seventh in the table and five points behind leaders Manchester City.

Tomorrow sees Chelsea face a fresh test of their credentials when they tackle reigning champions Leicester at Stamford Bridge in a lunchtime kick-off. But Willian is expected to miss the match for compassionate reasons following the death of his mother.

The Brazilian wrote a poem in his native Portuguese in tribute to his mother on Instagram yesterday after her death, reportedly of cancer.

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