Antonio Conte will walk away from Chelsea this season if his ambition is not matched, Chris Sutton has warned.
The Italian saw the Blues to the Premier League title in his first season at the helm, with his tactical prowess and man-management saluted throughout a productive campaign.
Conte has, however, been left frustrated by an apparent reluctance to build on that success.
Chelsea have spent big again in the summer transfer market, but Sutton believes a failure to meet the demands of a much sought-after boss could lead to an acrimonious parting of ways.
The former Blues striker told the Daily Mail: “Conte has said that he wants to avoid a ‘Mourinho season’.
“I can see him walking.
“He walked from Juventus when he didn’t get his own way.
“If the club are selling [Nemanja] Matic from under his nose then it’s not looking great.”
Conte was an interested spectator the last time Chelsea landed the English top-flight crown in 2014-15, with a forgettable defence leading to the departure of Jose Mourinho.
That season has acted as a warning to all concerned at Stamford Bridge, with movement expected during the summer window.
The Blues have brought in Alvaro Morata, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Antonio Rudiger, but they have lost Matic and deemed last season’s 20-goal top scorer, Diego Costa, to be surplus to requirements.
Pressed recently on whether his side will find it difficult to defend their title without further additions, Conte told Sky Sports: “Yes, for sure.
“This league is not easy. Six teams are very strong and you must be prepared.
“I hope to be able to improve our squad. The transfer market is not finished. We want to be competitive and we want to fight for the title again. The club knows my priorities.
“It’s a great challenge for us to try and retain the title, but we are working hard.”
Chelsea, who suffered a penalty shoot-out defeat to Arsenal in the Community Shield, will have Champions League action added to their workload this season, with European competition set to complement a Premier League campaign which opens with a home date against Burnley on Saturday.