London – Chelsea's technical director Michael Emenalo – a key confidant of owner Roman Abramovich at Stamford Bridge – is standing down from his role, the reigning Premier League champions said on Monday.
Emenalo acted as a link between the first team and the Blues board, had an influence on transfers, including Chelsea's much-scrutinised loan strategy, and was involved in developing players from the academy.
The former Nigerian international, who joined Chelsea in 2007 and has been technical director since 2011, has already been linked with a position at Monaco.
"Chelsea Football Club today announces that technical director Michael Emenalo has decided to stand down from his role," the club said in a statement.
"Michael arrived at Chelsea in 2007 and in 10 years at Stamford Bridge has contributed to a period of unprecedented success for the first team and academy."
Emenalo said it had been a difficult decision to make, adding: "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.
"I wish Chelsea every success and look forward to following the club's future triumphs from afar."
Chelsea chairperson Bruce Buck praised Emenalo's work.
"He has had a tremendous impact on the club over the past 10 years and this is evident in everything we have achieved," he said. "We are sorry to see him go but understand his desire to move on and explore new challenges."
Chelsea have had seven permanent managers in the period since Emenalo first arrived, plus Guus Hiddink (twice) and Rafael Benitez as lengthy interim appointments.
Head coach Antonio Conte's expressions of frustration at Chelsea's summer recruitment, plus some indifferent results, had led to speculation over his future but Conte and Emenalo had a good working relationship and the Italian said he was sorry to see him leave the club.
During his time at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea won three Premier League titles, three FA Cups, the League Cup, Europa League and the Champions League in 2012 as well as achieving huge success in youth football.