Friday 28 July 2017

Conte seeking more control as Chelsea tension mounts

'Conte's decision to tell Costa that he was not part of his plans by text message stunned Chelsea and could well have cost the club millions as their negotiating position is now weakened.' Photo: PA
'Conte's decision to tell Costa that he was not part of his plans by text message stunned Chelsea and could well have cost the club millions as their negotiating position is now weakened.' Photo: PA

Matt Law

Antonio Conte will be fighting a losing battle if he tries to take full control at Chelsea. Reports emerged from Italy that Conte was considering his future because he is frustrated over Chelsea's transfer strategy and wants to have greater power.

However, Chelsea are "relaxed" about the situation and it is understood Conte has not communicated any displeasure directly to the board.

The club have made Conte an offer to become the highest-paid manager in Chelsea's history following his superb first season in charge, but will not be held to ransom while the contract extension remains unsigned.

Tension has steadily built as Chelsea attempt to kick off their summer spending, find a solution to Diego Costa's situation and end any uncertainty over the futures of Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois.

Conte's decision to tell Costa that he was not part of his plans by text message stunned Chelsea and could well have cost the club millions as their negotiating position is now weakened.

It is believed that Conte took matters into his own hands after becoming agitated over a perceived lack of transfer activity regarding incomings and outgoings since the end of last season.

Conte left for holiday believing a deal to sign Virgil van Dijk was virtually agreed only to find Liverpool had made their own move for the central defender, which has hardened Southampton's stance and pushed up the asking price.

He was also disappointed Chelsea did not make a bid to sign Dries Mertens before the 30-year-old signed a new Napoli contract at the end of May.

Conte has made it clear he would like to sign Leonardo Bonucci from his former club Juventus, but Chelsea would have to pay over £50m for the 30-year-old and make him one of their highest-paid players.

Chelsea are closing in on a deal for Monaco midfielder Tiemoué Bakayoko and confident of landing Romelu Lukaku from Everton.

Juventus left-back Alex Sandro is also being chased while there is interest in Leicester's Riyad Mahrez and Everton midfielder Ross Barkley.

Meanwhile, Frank De Boer, the bookmakers' favourite for the Southampton job, is not in contention to replace Claude Puel at St Mary's.

The former Ajax and Inter Milan head coach had talks with Crystal Palace over their vacancy last week but is believed to still be waiting for a response from the Selhurst Park club, who are hoping to appoint Sam Allardyce's replacement next week.

Mauricio Pellegrino is known to be in the mix for both vacancies and reports in his native Argentina this week claimed that he is close to sealing the Palace role.

The former Liverpool defender and assistant manager impressed with Alavés last season, taking them to ninth in La Liga and the Copa del Rey final. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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