Antonio Conte’s departure from Chelsea at the end of the season may not yet be confirmed, but the reason why Roman Abramovich has delayed sacking the Italian has at least been revealed.
The Italian manager has led the Blues to a second successive FA Cup final and can yet finish a disappointing season with some silverware and bring down his reign at Stamford Bridge with a second trophy in as many seasons.
Chelsea have struggled in their defence of the Premier League title and currently lie 5th in the Premier League, five points shy of 4th-placed Spurs with just four matches remaining.
Speculation over Conte’s future began as early as last September and heightened over the autumn as it became apparent that Chelsea were not the force they were last season.
Their poor form early in 2018 led many to believe his exit was a certainty, and while there is still no confirmation he will leave, there seems an acceptance he will leave.
However, the Daily Mirror claims two reasons have prevented Chelsea firing him mid-season.
Firstly, it’s claimed Conte would be due £10million in compensation should Chelsea end his contract before the end of the season.
Secondly, the paper also claims Chelsea will avoid paying him any money should he walk into another job within six months of his Stamford Bridge exit.
With Conte believed to have held talks with PSG, Chelsea are hopeful their outgoing manager will soon land himself another top job.
And while Thomas Tuchel looks set to land the job with the Ligue 1 giants, there is likely to be no shortage of takers for Conte.
The former Juventus boss, however, could choose to play the long game and claim his £10million pay out and there would be little the Blues could do should Conte take that route.
It also seems a strange route to take for a club not known for worrying about paying out compensation to discarded managers…
Discussing his side’s struggles this season and his assessment of his players’ efforts, Conte said earlier this month: “Honestly. I think that I’m giving – the players are giving – everything this season.
“We are working very hard to try to have a good season, but I think that, in the end, we are deserving this season. It means that our value is this.
“You have to ask the club, not me. I repeat: my task is to work, to work and I know I work 24 hours for Chelsea. Me and my staff. This is our task. Then the club has to take the decision. But, I repeat, I’m not worried about this.”
Chelsea have been linked with a host of successors to Conte; the latest of which, Julian Nagelsmann, has dismissed talk he could move to London.