Michael Emenalo has returned to elite football as sporting director with the French league champions, Monaco, three weeks after quitting as Chelsea’s technical director.

Emenalo had stepped down at Stamford Bridge after the win against Manchester United having apparently first expressed a desire to end his 10-year association with Chelsea over the summer.

The owner, Roman Abramovich, had personally attempted to persuade him to stay on, without success, and considered the former Nigeria defender one of his most trusted lieutenants. The club and Emenalo, 52, subsequently pointed to his desire to spend more time with his young family when explaining the parting of the ways.

Whether he will be able to do that in his new role in the Principality is not clear – he will “take charge of all sport matters”, according to Monaco’s statement – with Emenalo taking up his duties immediately. “This is a wonderful opportunity for me in a high-quality project,” he said. “AS Monaco has shown great progress for several seasons and I am convinced that the future will be just as ambitious.

“[The club’s vice-president] Vadim Vasilyev’s willingness to see me join AS Monaco was decisive and for me, the choice was natural after my decision to leave Chelsea. I will work here with humility and try my best to bring my experience in this club which is a reference of French and European football.”

Chelsea are considering whether to appoint a direct replacement for Emenalo or split his responsibilities – from recruitment to the academy and loan players – across a number of roles at Cobham. The influential director Marina Granovskaia, who previously concentrated largely on player purchases and sales, has taken on much of Emenalo’s workload, with her influence at the club having effectively increased as a result of his departure.

“I have been following Michael Emenalo’s work for a long time and I am very happy to have him here after he chose to quit Chelsea,” Vasilyev said. “His know-how in the scouting network, as well as the technical skills he developed working in one of the most successful clubs in the world in the past few years, are the main reasons leading us to present him our ambitious challenge. Through this appointment it is a further sign that we are ambitious and competitive in our model.”

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