Saturday 19 August 2017

I am staying at Chelsea, insists 'happy' Conte

Bournemouth v Chelsea, Live, BT Sport 1, 5.30

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte. Photo: PA
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte. Photo: PA

Antonio Conte insists he is happy at Chelsea and does not know why rumours persist of a summer move to Inter Milan.

The 47-year-old former Juventus and Italy manager has been linked with a move to Inter after impressing in his first season in England.

Conte signed a three-year contract a year ago before taking up his position last July and expressed contentment in London and frustration about conjecture over his future from Italy.

"I stay here. I'm very happy to stay here," Conte said. "This is the most important thing. I don't like when I listen to other persons talking about me.

"I don't know why, but I think it's normal to try to involve my name in this situation. I worked in Italy. They want to come back for me in Italy.

"I have two more years of contract with Chelsea. This is the truth."

This week also saw suggestions former Juventus and Italy midfielder Andrea Pirlo could join Conte's coaching team this summer, when assistant boss Steve Holland joins England full-time.

Pirlo is currently playing for New York City FC in Major League Soccer.

Conte said: "In this period I'm listening (to) a lot of things. This is very strange, for example: Andrea Pirlo is playing and he wants to continue to play."

Conte's focus remains on completing the season.

He added: "We want to finish very good and (for) a good season to become a great season for us."

The Blues have a seven-point lead over second-placed Tottenham entering this weekend's fixtures, with Conte targeting six wins from the remaining eight games to be mathematically certain of the title.

Conte insisted that while Chelsea and Spurs are the main contenders, the title race is wide open. Liverpool are third, 12 points adrift of Chelsea and five behind Spurs having played a game more.

He added: "This race is open. I think now I can see two teams, Chelsea and Tottenham, in this race. But anything can happen because there are 24 points (to play for) and other rivals can go in this race."

Chelsea go to Bournemouth today at the end of week which saw them respond from the surprise home loss to Crystal Palace with victory over Manchester City on Wednesday.

Wing-back Victor Moses missed the last two matches but is in contention following a toe injury.

Irish Independent

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