Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo has stepped down from his position in a surprise move after 10 years with the Premier League club.
Emenalo grew in stature to become one of the most influential figures at Stamford Bridge and a part of Blues owner Roman Abramovich’s inner circle, having originally joined Chelsea as a coach in 2007.
The 52-year-old’s departure comes amid rumours of tension between manager Antonio Conte and members of the club’s hierarchy.
“This has been a very difficult decision to make, but one I believe is right for both myself and my family, and the club,” said the former Nigeria international.
“I have had the privilege to work alongside some of the most talented people in the world of sport over the past 10 years, and I will depart incredibly proud of the achievements we have made.”
Chairman Bruce Buck said the club had accepted Emenalo’s resignation “with regret”.
“He has had a tremendous impact on the club over the past 10 years and this is evident in everything we have achieved,” he added. “We are sorry to see him go but understand his desire to move on and explore new challenges.”
Chelsea won three Premier League titles, three FA Cups, the Champions League and the Europa League during Emenalo’s time at the club.
He is also credited with the signings of current Blues stars Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois as well as Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku, who were sold but have since enjoyed huge success elsewhere.
Conte, who has made little secret of his dissatisfaction with the club’s summer transfer business, expressed regret at Emenalo’s departure.
“I am very sorry to see Michael leave Chelsea, and I would like to thank him for all his help and support since I arrived at this club,” he said.
“I have enjoyed working with him very much, we celebrated a Premier League title together in May, and I wish him the very best for the future.”