Former Chelsea captain Marcel Desailly has urged the club’s owner Roman Abramovich to keep faith in manager Antonio Conte beyond the end of the season.

In only his first season in charge, Conte led the Blues to the 2016/17 Premier League title.

However, this season things have gone pear-shaped and the Blues are currently in fifth place in the Premier League standings and ten points adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham, who occupy the last Champions League qualification spot.

Chelsea are likely to undergo major squad change during the summer as they aim to rebuild in time for next season – and Conte could also depart as part of the radical changes that are likely to take place.

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Former Blues player and manager Gianluca Vialli has suggested that the 48-year-old cannot wait to leave Stamford Bridge, and former PSG and French national team manager Laurent Blanc has been linked with the managerial position.

Desailly, however, believes that players should pay the price for Chelsea’s lacklustre season – not Conte.

“What was working last season with Conte cannot suddenly not work this season,” Desailly told the Daily Mail. “Before, they’ve changed the coach, and kept the players. This time they should keep the coach and look to move four to five players on.

“Your best players’ performances have dropped and Chelsea did not get the correct players with the correct strengths or another top player in the summer. Players like [Victor] Moses and [Marcos] Alonso played a magnificent season last year but they were in need of support this year.

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“It’s been a collective failure at Chelsea this season. I don’t think the situation that Chelsea are in is Conte’s fault – you must give him that season.”

The Blues’ only remaining chance of silverware this season is the FA Cup. They are next in action in the league against Southampton this weekend and will face the same opponents during their FA Cup semi-final clash.