Chelsea manager Antonio Conte goes into Monday’s Premier League game at Watford with mounting uncertainty over his future.

Fourth-placed Chelsea are one point ahead of Tottenham Hotspur after an unimpressive start to the year, in which they were knocked out of the League Cup by Arsenal and beaten at home in the Premier League by Bournemouth.

Conte has been the subject of persistent British media reports that he will leave the club at the end of the season after publicly criticising their transfer policy.

Indeed, there are events and facts that show that he may be nearing his end at Chelsea.

1. Damaging Methods

Conte’s methods underwent further scrutiny over the weekend when it was revealed that new signing Ross Barkley will miss Monday’s game at Vicarage Road after becoming the eighth Chelsea player to suffer a hamstring injury this season.

Conte has consistently said his squad is not strong enough, but is that the problem or he is the one wearing them out?

Striker Olivier Giroud and defender Emerson Palmieri were recruited last week in an attempt to provide more options.

Publicly at least, Conte is putting a brave face on the situation.

2. Public Backing?

You do not need to beg to be trusted, you earn trust.

Things have become so uncertain that Conte had to call on the Chelsea board to end the uncertainty over his future by publicly confirming they trust in his work.

Meanwhile, the only time Chelsea has done anything similar was in October 2015 when they released a statement backing Jose Mourinho following Chelsea’s worst start to a season since 1979.

Two months later the Portuguese was sacked. So, one way or another Conte may well be disappointed.

3. Fallout With Roman’s Men

Conte has refused to confirm media reports he has been at odds with director, Marina Granovskaia, one of owner Roman Abramovich’s most trusted employees.

But November’s surprise departure of transfer chief, Michael Emenalo shows things may not be well.

Conte-Emenalo

4. Barcelona Beckons

Barcelona is not at their peak, but they are still one of the best playing teams in Europe this season.

This is not a good time for Chelsea to face such tough challenge and the only thing that can bolster Conte’s position is a strong showing against Barcelona in the Champions League round of 16.

He knows any slip against Barca might be the final nail.

5. Italy Link

It is no coincidence that the 48-year-old has been linked with a return to his former job as Italy manager.

Although, Italian football federation (FIGC) assistant commissioner Alessandro Costacurta said on Sunday that he has ruled himself out, we will take that with a pinch of salt.

“As Conte reiterated the other day, he wants to continue working as a coach on a day-by-day basis at club level for at least the next 18 months the length of his Chelsea contract.

"So, he has pulled out of the running,” Costacurta said.

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6. He Has Stayed Long 'Enough'

After 18 months in the job, Conte has survived longer than most at a club which has employed 10 managers in as many years.

The club has probably forgotten what stability means and letting him go will definitely not be a difficult decision.

Conte, however, maintains that he intends to stay until at least next summer when his contract runs out.

“We are doing the maximum for this club. If the club understands this and the club wants to extend a new contract, we can talk,” he said.

“We can talk. Why not? My contract expires in 2019. My desire and my will are to continue to work with this club.”

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