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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 23 July 2018

Chelsea confirm Antonio Conte has been sacked as manager

Italian dismissed despite winning Premier League and FA Cup during his two-season reign

Antonio Conte's reign as Chelsea manager is reported to be over. Reuters
Antonio Conte's reign as Chelsea manager is reported to be over. Reuters

Antonio Conte's firing from Chelsea has been confirmed by the Premier League club.

A statement on Friday morning said: "Chelsea Football Club and Antonio Conte have parted company. We wish Antonio every success in his future career."

The rumoured departure came 54 days after Chelsea lifted the 2017-18 FA Cup - and with the Italian having taken pre-season training earlier this week.

Conte, who is reportedly set to be replaced by former Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri, also led Chelsea to the 2016-17 Premier League title in his first season as boss.

Former Juventus and Italy boss Conte signed a three-year contract before becoming Chelsea head coach in July 2016.

His deal was improved, but not extended, in July 2017 after the Premier League win, hinting at differences with the Chelsea hierarchy.

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Speculation had shrouded his position last season and it had looked like Conte might depart in early February after successive losses by a three-goal margin to Bournemouth and Watford but he saw the season out.

He had done little to hide his dissent over Chelsea's transfer business in the summer of 2017 and winter of 2017-18, making thinly-veiled criticisms of "the club".

With two trophies, Conte's spell as boss will likely be considered a success.

Chelsea beat Manchester United on May 19 for Conte's second trophy of the spell, after which he said he was a "serial winner" who "can't change", citing his contract as he answered speculation it would be his final match in charge.

A fifth-placed finish in the Premier League, missing out on Uefa Champions League qualification and ending the season 30 points behind winners Manchester City did little to strengthen Conte's argument to stay on.

Midfielder Cesc Fabregas had appeared to pre-empt an announcement on Thursday, writing on Twitter: "Thank you Mister for another Premier League title and FA Cup. 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."

Fabregas earlier apologised for accidentally liking a Tweet celebrating Conte's reported sacking.

A post shared by Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) on

Chelsea's first game of pre-season match is the July 23 friendly with Perth Glory in Western Australia.

And the Blues could have a new boss and a new midfielder by then.

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis on Wednesday said "the Sarri affair is nearly at its conclusion", alluding to the likelihood of the 59-year-old moving to Stamford Bridge.

And Italy midfielder Jorginho could also move to London from the Naples club.

John Terry, who left Chelsea after 22 years last summer following one campaign under Conte, paid tribute to the Italian.

Terry wrote on Instagram: "Love this man. Thanks for everything Boss. In a time that should have been the most difficult season of my career, Antonio was honest, respectful and there for me whenever I needed him. I loved working and learning from him. Thank you for everything boss."