Antonio Conte insists he has never considered leaving Chelsea during his time at the club, despite speculation linking him with an imminent departure from Stamford Bridge this summer.
The Italian’s position at Chelsea has been cast under scrutiny this season amid reports of disharmony between him and the club’s board.
In spite of lifting the FA Cup with his men on Saturday afternoon, having beaten Manchester United 1-0 in a flat final at Wembley, Conte is still expected to step down from his position in the coming months as the Chelsea hierarchy plots a fresh overhaul at the club.
But the 48-year-old, speaking in the wake of Saturday’s win, reiterated his desire to “respect the contract for this club” as he was questioned over past job offers. Both Italy and Juventus were, at separate points during Conte’s second season in charge, linked to the Italian.
“My mind was always very clear – to respect the contract for this club. I didn’t think for one second to leave the club at the end of this season.
“As you know, every season I have to speak with the club and also in the last season after we won the league, we spoke. We spoke with the club and we tried to find the right way to try to defend our title.
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“But as you know it’s not simple and sometimes you can have, not always the same ambition. But when I decided to sign a new contract, I decided to stay at this club and work very hard for this club.
“In this season with my staff I have worked more than last season. Because when you face difficulties, you must be prepared to work very hard to overcome these difficulties. I must be honest in this season the mountain to climb was very high, very high, very high, but, despite this, we finished to lift an important trophy like the FA Cup.
“Last season, despite our win in the league, we weren’t able to do this. We must be please because when you win in a difficult season like this, it means there is a great work behind, a great commitment of my players and then we will see.”
As ever, Conte remained evasive on the nature of the conversations being held between him and the club with regards to his future in West London.
“I think that this is a private conversation,” he said. “It will be a private conversation with the club and I, and I think it’s right to be private, and not to tell to the press. It’s right to have a private conversation with the club.”