Antonio Conte denies suggestion he is open to leaving Chelsea this summer

Matt Law
Antonio Conte has had a hugely impressive first season in British football - REUTERS

Antonio Conte has reiterated that he intends to be at Chelsea next season and distanced himself from a suggestion by Italian agent Federico Pastorello that he may be open to leaving Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea are hopeful that head coach Conte will sign an extension to his current contract that still has two years to run once the Premier League title is secure.

Conte has guided the Blues to the brink of winning the title in his first season, but that has not stopped reports in Italy claiming Inter Milan will make an attempt to snatch him away from Stamford Bridge this summer.

Pastorello, who is close to Conte and has become an increasingly prominent figure at Chelsea since the 47-year-old’s appointment last year, fuelled rumours of a possible move to Inter.

He said: “Will Conte stay at Chelsea? If he wins a title and begins the cycle, the objective is one of continuity. But if offers from clubs arrive, new opportunities may arise, especially at historical clubs.”

Conte, though, has slapped down Pastorello for talking on his behalf and stressed his intention to build on his superb first season at Chelsea that could still end with a League and FA Cup double.

“I don’t like it when others speak for me,” said Conte. “Pastorello is a friend, I know him well but I don’t like when others speak for me. If someone wants to know something about me, then they must ask me.

“We’re fighting for the title and we want to achieve this goal, then we’ll try to build something important together.”

Asked whether that meant he will be at Chelsea next season, Conte added: “Yes, for the next season.”

Another man Chelsea intend to keep hold of is Eden Hazard, who proved to be the match-winner in the vital victory over Manchester City on Wednesday night.

Real Madrid have revived their interest in Hazard, but the forward’s club and international team-mate Thibaut Courtois has stressed that it is vital he remains at Chelsea.

Asked if Chelsea must keep Hazard, Courtois replied: “Yes. Eden is one of the best players in the world.

“Chelsea have ambitions to win the Champions League again and always look to play for the title. If you want to do that, you need the biggest players and he is obviously a big part of that.”

Hazard has proved he can cope with the speculation surrounding Real’s interest, as can goalkeeper Courtois who is also a target of the Spaniards.

“Eden is not affected by it,” said Courtois. “They are just rumours. He is just calm. He knows that he is important to Chelsea, like I do. We are both very happy to be here. This was my 100th game for Chelsea and I hope for many more.”

Least impressive unbeaten runs in the PL

 

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