Trouble for champs? Growing tension divides Conte, Chelsea

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There presently exists mutual tension between Antonio Conte and other key members of the Chelsea hierarchy — so much so that his status as the reigning Premier League champions’ manager could come into question — according to a report from Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport.

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The key issue between Conte and Chelsea executives is said to stem from Conte’s decision to, and method of communication, offload star striker Diego Costa this summer. Conte reportedly informed Costa of his intentions via text message.

Furthermore, according to the Daily Record, Conte is reportedly seeking a new contract after just one season at Stamford Bridge — one that not only provides increased financial terms, but also gives the 47-year-old Italian greater control and responsibility with regard to the day-to-day operations of the club, from the first team all the way down to the youth academy.

The report claims Conte also seeks a direct line of communication with owner Roman Abramovich, cutting out any and all middlemen within the club’s executive structure.

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Given that the sourcing from the original report is Italian, one of two things are really going on here: 1) a club back home in Italy is doing anything and everything imaginable to unsettle Conte at Chelsea; or, most likely, 2) Conte’s agent is posturing for that improved deal (financially and in terms of Conte’s power within the Chelsea hierarchy), and has shown Chelsea he’s not at all playing around by planting a story of such consequence.