Sunday 22 April 2018

Conte's keen to seal a new deal

'Conte has admitted he couldn’t see Chelsea winning the title after September’s landmark 3-0 defeat to Arsenal' Photo: Reuters
'Conte has admitted he couldn’t see Chelsea winning the title after September’s landmark 3-0 defeat to Arsenal' Photo: Reuters

Matt Law

Antonio Conte is ready to sign a new Chelsea contract after today's FA Cup final which will make him the highest-paid manager in the club's history.

Conte will be rewarded for his superb first season as Chelsea's head coach with a new deal worth £9.6m a year, which will see the 47-year-old commit himself to Stamford Bridge until 2021.

Inter Milan have tried to tempt Conte back to his home country, but the former Juventus and Italy manager confirmed that he was set to end speculation over his future.

"If the club give me the possibility to stay and to extend my contract, for sure I am available to do this. I hope to stay here for many years," he said.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich will hand Conte a transfer budget of around £200m, with Everton striker Romelu Lukaku, Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk, and Monaco midfielder Tiemouee Bakayoko on his list of targets.

Chelsea are also looking for a full-back, a wide player and a new back-up goalkeeper, with Asmir Begovic set to join Bournemouth.

Conte has admitted he couldn't see Chelsea winning the title after September's landmark 3-0 defeat to Arsenal, and that he would have accepted a mere top-four finish at that stage.

That defeat turned out to be the turning point in their season after Conte opted to play three at the back.

"It was very difficult to think about celebrating winning the league after the Arsenal defeat," the 47-year-old said. "In that period, we had a lot of big problems to solve. To find the right solution quickly is not easy. You must be very good, very prepared, but also lucky in these circumstances.

"And you must also have the players to give you the possibility to impose your ideas, your changes, and everything you are thinking in that moment.

"For that reason, I was lucky to have a group of players who put themselves in Chelsea and my ideas of football.

"At the start of the season, if you'd said we could qualify for the Champions League, I'd have signed for that. Then I found great players, and we were able to change our season.

"For sure, after that defeat, it was very difficult not to see me angry. It was difficult for me to accept that defeat. That is my character.

"For two days, it's not easy to live with me. Also for my family, though they know me very well. They understand moments like that. My wife, my daughter, my parents and my brothers.

"For sure, after that bad defeat, I was angry. But I channelled my anger in the right way. I used my anger in the right way. I tried to change the situation."

Some expected Conte to face the wrath of Abramovich, but it was the opposite. The Italian added: "He came for three days to watch our training sessions, to watch the video analysis, to stay with us. He supported me. He never showed me he was angry. He trusted me." © Daily Telegraph, London.

Irish Independent

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