Clearing the way for Maurizio Sarri to take over

Tom Nicholson
Photo credit: Getty Images

From Esquire

Antonio Conte's two successful but increasingly strained seasons at Chelsea are now over, with former Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri ready to start his own two-year Chelsea cycle: success, acclaim, trophies, gradual breakdown of relationships, switch from suit to bad tracksuit, huffy press conferences, blame it on Ross Barkley, and finally half-arsing it for the last seven games of the season and finishing fifth.

Conte had a successful first season, in which he won the Premier League, set a record for the most games won in a Premier League season (30 out of 38) and slowly persuading luddite English managers that three at the back wasn't a form of Italian voodoo.

However, it became more and more clear in the increasingly fractious second half of last season that despite winning the FA Cup, Conte was ready to move on from Chelsea, and that Chelsea were quite happy to let him go, so this departure isn't much of a surprise.

The surprise is that it's taken so long to happen, even taking into account the widely-reported theory that chairman Roman Abramovich was waiting to see if any clubs came in for Conte to save him some money: the Telegraph reports that as things stand Conte will still be paid by Chelsea for the remaining year of his contract.

Lord knows what Conte's been doing around the place in the meantime. Probably the same as anyone else who's handed in their notice and doesn't have to worry about what their reference says: stealing Chelsea branded pens, taking an extra 15 minutes and a swift half at lunch, and furtively flicking through odd IMDB trivia pages in an Incognito Chrome tab.

Sarri will arrive along with former Napoli charge Jorginho, who is reportedly joining Chelsea in a deal with upwards of £50 million for the pair.

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