Antonio Conte

On Saturday afternoon, Chelsea fans were left puzzled as the club published photos from the opening day of pre-season. Several Chelsea first-team players looked to be involved at the Cobham training ground, but there was no sign of Antonio Conte.

Later on in the day, a photo emerged of Conte at the training ground linking arms with his entire backroom staff. Some suggested the photo was old, but the Italian was donning our new training it. The image was both authentic and recent.

It begged the question, why was Conte not pictured working with his players if he was present at Cobham? Is it the club’s way to gradually airbrush him out ahead of his proposed dismissal? Well, we now have the answer.

As revealed by BBC reporter Simon Stone on Twitter, the photos of the players in action were in fact from fitness tests. Conte was not one of the coaches involved in the drills, hence his absence from the pictures. Full pre-season begins on Monday.

Conte remains, for now.

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