With their Premier League rivals already strengthening for next season, Chelsea risk losing further ground as uncertainty swirls over the future of manager Antonio Conte and even owner Roman Abramovich.
A fifth-placed finish just a year after winning the league in Conte’s first season in charge meant many expected the FA Cup final to be the Italian’s last match in charge, despite beating Manchester United 1-0 to end the season on a high.
However, more than two weeks on, no decision has been made on Conte’s future, with speculation that former Paris Saint-Germain boss Laurent Blanc and Maurizio Sarri, who was recently replaced by Carlo Ancelotti at Napoli, have been lined up as possible replacements.
The apparent drift has been linked to a reported delay in the renewal of a British visa for Russian billionaire Abramovich, who has bankrolled Chelsea’s success since taking over the club in 2003.
It follows a diplomatic crisis between London and Moscow over the poisoning of a former Russian double agent and calls from some for sanctions that would hurt super-rich Russians sheltering their wealth in London.
Abramovich has been granted Israeli citizenship and taken up residence there, according to Israel’s ambassador to Russia.
Chelsea announced last week they had shelved plans for a new 60,000-seater redevelopment of Stamford Bridge due to an “unfavourable investment climate”.