Chelsea finally said farewell to Antonio Conte with a curt statement on Friday, but a bitter and lengthy legal battle could follow over the terms of the Italian’s compensation.
In 61 words, the club confirmed the dismissal of the manager who delivered them the Premier League title in his debut season and the FA Cup less than two months ago.
They offered the 48-year-old no thanks for his work over the last two years as former Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri arrived in London. Sarri, 59, is expected to replace his compatriot. Chelsea released their short, sharp statement yesterday morning that said: ‘Chelsea Football Club and Antonio Conte have parted company.
‘During Antonio’s time at the club, we won our sixth league title and eighth FA Cup. In the title-winning season, the club set a then-record 30 wins in a 38-game Premier League season, as well as a club-record 13 consecutive league victories.
‘We wish Antonio every success in his future career.’
Conte had 12 months left on his £9million-a-year deal and the Italian wants compensation in full and at once, rather than month by month. That is not Chelsea’s usual protocol and it is also believed lawyers are still haggling over how much to pay the former Juventus and Italy manager.
Sources suggested yesterday the reason Chelsea’s statement was so blunt was because of the legal issues. The club chose their words carefully and avoided thanking the man they will claim brought this sacking upon himself by his behaviour.
Conte delivered trophies in his two years at Chelsea but also brought controversy. The most infamous incident involved him telling striker Diego Costa he was no longer wanted via text message. That is expected to be a key piece of evidence from the club.
Conte also fell out with David Luiz and Willian, and used press conferences last season to accuse the board of not signing his targets. There was concern at the club that if Conte stayed then star players could try to leave, including Real Madrid target Eden Hazard.
After Sportsmail revealed on Friday that the Spanish giants are plotting a £150million move for Hazard, Belgium boss Roberto Martinez believes Hazard would fit in perfectly. When asked about the prospect of the attacker moving to Real, Martinez said: ‘He can play for any demanding team in the world.’
Conte is not happy at how his dismissal was handled, particularly after he came back to take pre-season training at Cobham this week. Conte took training on Thursday morning before being told of his sacking that afternoon.
Midfielder Cesc Fabregas thanked Conte on Twitter: ‘It wasn’t easy for me to convince you in the beginning but in the end I hope I did you proud. Good luck for the future.’
Chelsea declined to comment on Friday night.