The worst kept secret in soccer is out.
Antonio Conte has been fired as Chelsea’s manager.
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The Italian coach had taken the first few days of preseason training ahead of the 2018/19 campaign, but as he entered the final year of his Chelsea contract it has been clear for months he didn’t want to be around.
And Chelsea released the following statement on Friday, as former Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri is expected to replace Conte in the coming hours.
“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 won the Premier League title in his first season in charge at Chelsea and he added the FA Cup in his second season, finishing fifth in the Premier League in 2017/18 as they failed to qualify for the UEFA Champions League. He leaves Chelsea with the best winning percentage (65.1) of any of their managers who’ve managed at least 100 Premier Leaghe games.
The former Italy and Juventus boss revolutionized Chelsea tactically after their disappointing midtable finish in 2015/16 as their title defense went horribly wrong and cost Jose Mourinho his job. The 3-4-3 formation he used was lauded and replicated across the league and his passion on the sidelines was incredible, especially in his debut season in England in 2016/17, as Chelsea won 30 of their 38 PL games.
Last season it was clear from the start he wanted to leave as he signed a new deal in the summer but only on improved terms instead of increased length, plus he clashed with the Chelsea hierarchy over transfer spending and also fell out with Diego Costa, David Luiz and other big name players.
With two trophies in two seasons in charge it is hard to describe Conte’s time at Chelsea as a failure, but the past six months have seen his situation deteriorate rapidly and it was clear he wasn’t going to walk away from the final year of his contract until he was fired.
That’s now happened and it believed Conte will pick up around $12 million in compensation from the club.