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Chelsea looking to replace wig wearing coach with chain smoker?

Antonio Conte’s position as Chelsea boss is reportedly hanging by a thread amid claims he has lost the support of the entire dressing room at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues suffered a shock 3-0 home defeat to Bournemouth in midweek and are in danger of missing the top four amid a sorry run of recent results that has also seen the club dumped out of the Carabao Cup by Arsenal.

Conte hit back at his treatment in the media on Sunday, claiming he is put under more pressure by many of his Premier League rivals, with the Italian also launching a staunch defence of the job he has done at Stamford Bridge.

However, with a Champions League last-16 clash against Barcelona on the horizon, ESPN Brasil claims the Italian could be sacked should the Blues be dumped out of the Champions League against the La Liga pacesetters.

The reports adds that the atmosphere at Chelsea is now as bad as the last few months of Jose Mourinho’s reign and that all but one current player (Cesar Azpilicueta) has lost faith in the manager.

Furthermore, it’s suggested the catalyst for the row started at the end of last season with Conte’s decision to axe Diego Costa by text the start of the turmoil the club are now experiencing. It’s also claimed his bust-up with David Luiz has made matters much worse.

Maurizio Sarri Napoli

It’s claimed senior Blues players are upset with Conte for his treatment of the Brazilian defender, who has effectively been shunned from the side following a heavy defeat away to Roma in the Autumn.

To make matters worse, Luiz is said to be held in high regard by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and director Marina Granovskaia and it’s reported they already have a shortlist of two names to replace the Italian.

Former Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti and ex-Barcelona coach Luis Enrique are the names said to be at the top of Abramovich’s shortlist, while Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri is also under consideration.

Maurizio Sarri Napoli

Sarri would cost the Blues £7million in compensation, but the money would not be an issue should Chelsea decide to pursue the Neapolitan.

It all means Conte’s future at Stamford Bridge will come under sharp focus, with the Blues due to face Watford on Monday Night Football.

Hitting out at the media’s treatment of him, Conte said: “I don’t understand why other coaches are not under pressure after a defeat in the way that you (the media) are doing with me,” said Conte, who was this week linked with a return to managing the Italian national side.

“But I repeat, this is not problem because I don’t read (newspapers), I don’t go online.

“As you know very well, I don’t have a relationship here with a journalist.

“I want to see if there is one to tell the opposite (that he is not about to leave).”