Antonio Conte reportedly "could quit" the Chelsea helm amid claims of "mutual tension" between the manager and the club's board as a result of uncertainty regarding their summer transfer prospects. However, the club and manager are said to have rejected the reports.
According to Italian daily La Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t BBC Sport), Conte's decision to tell striker Diego Costa he has no future at the club has caused some of the friction, although the Blues' transfer plans are also thought to be a concern.
GianlucaDiMarzio.com alleged the Premier League-winning boss was irked by the fact Chelsea have yet to make any moves in the transfer market as he looks to boost his squad ahead of their return to the UEFA Champions League.
But Simon Johnson of the London Evening Standard later posted an update on the reported tensions, to which Conte seemed oblivious:
Simon Johnson @sjstandardsport
Finally, it is understood that Conte is also mystified by talk he wants to leave #cfc2017-6-16 09:54:23
Football Italia cited Sky Italia in noting Conte was frustrated his employers are "not buying players he requested" and cited previous examples of such behaviour, having allegedly done so prior to leaving Juventus in 2014:
Update from Di Marzio: "We verified rumours of Antonio Conte discontent - situation worse than expected" https://t.co/rMF4dqxAqo #CFC https://t.co/8xp5bbg2z72017-6-15 21:42:44
That report said Conte "could walk away" over the issue, although Chelsea don't appear fazed by the development after the Mirror's Alex Richards wrote that the board "laughed off" suggestions of a parting of ways.
Sky Sports News offered an alternative view of affairs on Friday morning, with Conte's future at the club alleged to be secure:
Sky Sports News HQ @SkySportsNewsHQ
BREAKING: Antonio Conte committed to @ChelseaFC & happy at club after reports he was disappointed with lack of signings -Sky sources. #SSNHQ https://t.co/EZ9uXegb2y2017-6-16 09:40:16
The Sun's Neil Ashton noted it is the desire of Chelsea's executives to see Costa remain in west London despite reports the club could move to re-sign Romelu Lukaku from Everton for a £70 million investment.
Costa's inclination towards leaving for the Chinese Super League in January before opting to stay is said to have annoyed Conte, who would now rather have him sold by the time pre-season training starts on July 3, per Ashton.
It's understandable Conte should wish to replenish his stocks after running to the Premier League crown in his maiden English campaign, albeit doing so when his side were unburdened by European commitments.
But there are conflicting reports regarding the board's position on Conte, and as far as the Costa tensions are concerned, Spanish daily Marca (h/t Sport Witness) said owner Roman Abramovich is "100 per cent behind whatever he chooses to do."
That doesn't account for Conte's frustrations in terms of making his own moves in the transfer market.
Stamford Bridge was a fortress last season, and Chelsea looked to be back on the road to greatness under the Italian, but a lack of understanding on the transfer front could put an end to their relationship after only a year.