Some reports have been doing the rounds of a distinct lack of Antonio Conte at Chelsea training this week, but there’s an explanation.
While of course speculation goes on that Conte could be leaving Stamford Bridge this summer as Maurizio Sarri is linked as his replacement by the Guardian and others, it seems he’s not gone just yet.
And his absence from pictures alongside Chelsea players at the club’s Cobham training base also has a perfectly innocent explanation, according to BBC journalist Simon Stone.
Tweeting about the issue, Stone says the Blues have not yet started proper pre-season training, but are only in for two days of medical tests, meaning there’s no need for the manager to be around.
Bit of clarity on absence of Antonio Conte pics on @ChelseaFC training ground. Players doing two days of medical tests. Only coaches involved in them would be outside. Training begins for real on Monday.
— Simon Stone (@sistoney67) July 7, 2018
This settles things for the time being, but one imagines Conte might not have much longer left at Chelsea anyway.
Despite getting off to a dream start with the west Londoners by winning the Premier League in style in his first season in charge, the Italian tactician could only guide them to fifth place last term.
Chelsea did end on a high by winning the FA Cup, but a flurry of poor signings and a lack of Champions League football could well be enough to cost Conte his job given Roman Abramovich’s record in that department.