Chelsea appear to have revealed the limitations they believe Antonio Conte possesses as a manager, keeping him away from negotiations for Ross Barkley after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain rejected the Italian in favour of Liverpool.
The Times report that it was Conte’s insistence on telling Oxlade-Chamberlain that he would be competing with Victor Moses at right wing-back which drove him to Anfield – but the move to exclude the Italian which led to Barkley turning the Blues down this summer, unable to clarify his role in the squad with his potential new manager.
The situation has only served to underline the apparent rift between manager and board at Stamford Bridge, with Conte reportedly unhappy with the lack of top quality signings coming into the club this summer.
The club spent big on Alvaro Morata and Tiemoue Bakayoko, but those signings served only to replace Diego Costa (absent stubborn) and Nemanja Matic (at Manchester United), rather than actively strengthening the squad for a gruelling campaign with European football to contend with.
Antonio Rudiger, Danny Drinkwater and Davide Zappacosta all arrived – the latter pair late on deadline day – but will likely start more in backup roles than starring, leaving the likes of free-spending Manchester United and Manchester City stealing a march on the reigning champions.
Even Drinkwater’s transfer was conducted by technical director Michael Emenalo and director Marina Granovskaia rather than Conte, although the Italian is believed to have had a hand in bringing in Zappacosta – having handed the Torino man his first Italy cap in 2016.