Antonio Conte’s time as Chelsea manager finally came to an end on Thursday when he was fired with Maurizio Sarri set to take over.
Conte, who had refused to walk away from Chelsea unless the final year of his contract was paid in full, has been waiting since winning the FA Cup in May to be fired, but Chelsea’s unwillingness to pay compensation for Sarri delayed the process.
That led to the uncomfortable situation this week where Conte actually took the first four days of preseason training as his future had not been resolved.
Chelsea are expected to announce Sarri’s appointment on an initial two-year contract on Friday, together with the signing of Italy international midfielder Jorginho from Napoli for a combined fee of €65 million (£57.5m).
Conte led Chelsea to the Premier League title in his first season in England in 2016-17 and followed up that achievement with the FA Cup triumph this year, but his relationship with the board became damaged beyond repair, highlighted by his repeated public and private complaints about transfer policy.
He also clashed with senior players such as Diego Costa and David Luiz while others had begun to grow weary of his methods. In the wake of Chelsea’s FA Cup win, Willian obscured Conte in a team celebration photograph posted on Instagram.
Chelsea hoped that another club might attempt to buy Conte out of the final year of his Stamford Bridge contract as he was unwilling to resign, but Paris Saint-Germain’s appointment of Thomas Tuchel and Real Madrid’s choice of Julen Lopetegui eliminated the possibility.
Before joining Chelsea, Conte had only coached in Italy, leading Juventus to three consecutive Serie A titles from 2012-14 before taking over the national team at Euro 2016.