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Conte prepared to return to Chelsea for pre-season training — report

Another day closer to Antonio Conte’s third season in charge of Chelsea

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Chelsea Training and Press Conference Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Adding to the sense of uncertainty and general unease around Stamford Bridge is the sense that Chelsea have basically gone into media lockdown. Even before the season officially ended with the FA Cup final, the flow of information from the club through their usual media channels had slowed to a trickle, and now even those have, more or less. dried up. Chelsea have never been too forthcoming with information to begin with, but this is unusual even for them.

Some of this can be explained with end-of-season holidays, though for the people in power at a football club, the summer is the worst time for a vacation. Some of this can also be explained by the unwelcome distraction of Roman Abramovich’s visa issues. And some of this can be explained by the fact that none of us really know what’s happening behind the scenes. Maybe they are working hard indeed, and we’re just not seeing anything tangible. That said, the Womens’ team and the Academy are taking care of business as usual (transfers, contracts, etc), so Chelsea’s lack of action stands in stark contrast.

Could all of this be gated by the uncertainty around the manager? There are some generic claims to the contrary, but by all appearances, it very much seems to be. It certainly doesn’t help that we’re halfway through June and we still don’t know who will be in charge when preseason starts in about a month. The two latest dates Chelsea have announced summer appointees in the Premier League era was June 11 (Scolari) and June 22 (Villas-Boas), and neither Big Phil nor AVB saw out the winter let alone make it to the end of the season.

Could the next such lucky man be Maurizio Sarri? Laurent Blanc? Someone entirely different? Antonio Conte?

Buried in a rare update from Matt Law of the Telegraph, which is more of a summary, really, of the current situation (see: media blackout), is the line that Antonio Conte “has told friends he is prepared to return for pre-season training if no action is taken”. This shouldn’t be surprising as it is a logical consequence of his staunch refusal to resign, his explicit intention to continue the work from the past two seasons, and his apparent rejection of the Real Madrid opportunity, but it may be the first time it’s been stated this clearly by a trusted outlet.

The rest of the report is the usual guff about wanting change but not willing to pay for it. But unless Chelsea sack and pay off Conte, he will be back at Cobham next month and ready to relight everyone’s blazing inferno, or start a “civil war” ... or both.

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