Michael Emenalo has shocked Chelsea by deciding to step down from his position as technical director.
While speculation has been raging over the future of head coach Antonio Conte, Emenalo has decided to bring his 10-year association with the club to an end.
The move may be viewed in some quarters as a victory for Conte, but Emenalo has remained supportive of the Italian who he helped to appoint last year.
Emenalo’s decision is a huge blow to Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, who counted the 52-year-old among the few people he trusts and takes advice from.
With his help, Chelsea have won the Premier League title three times, the FA Cup, the League Cup, the Europa League and the Champions League while Emenalo has been at the club.
Conte is the 10th manager Emenalo has worked with and the former Notts County player has been a vital element of the Abramovich era.
Abramovich visited Chelsea’s Cobham training ground last week, when it is likely Emenalo will have discussed the matter with the Russian.
Chelsea suffered a frustrating summer transfer window, which caused tension between Conte, Emenalo and director Marina Granovskaia.
Sources have suggested that Emenalo does not wish to engage in a three-way power battle with Conte and Granovskaia who are known not to see eye to eye.
Emenalo first joined Chelsea with Avram Grant in 2007 and worked as an opposition scout and assistant first-team coach under Carlo Ancelotti, replacing Ray Wilkins.
Abramovich’s decision for Emenalo to take over from Wilkins and sit on the Chelsea bench caused controversy and thrust the former defender into the spotlight.