Antonio Conte will not make a final decision on his future as Chelsea manager until he is satisfied with the club’s efforts in the current transfer market. The Italian wants his Premier League winning squad improved in both quality and quantity and remains prepared to walk away from Stamford Bridge if he considers it incapable of properly challenging for the Champions League.
Following recent talks with Conte, Chelsea’s hierarchy have intensified their efforts to secure new signings, agreeing a fee of €40million with AS Monaco for Tiemoue Bakayoko and offering Juventus a record figure for Brazil left back Alex Sandro. While these moves represent significant progress, the Italian coach has asked for further reinforcements in all areas of the squad with centre forward and central defence particular priorities.
According to sources close to Conte, the 47-year-old’s discontent with Chelsea has been wide ranging, with the make-up and performance of his technical staff, the inaccessibility of owner Roman Abramovich, development of academy players and the level of his salary relative to other Premier League managers all contributory factors. Conte is said to have felt “unhappy and alone” in his position and that he merits greater support from a club that failed to deliver signings he requested in either of his first two English transfer windows.
It is understood that earlier this month Conte’s concerns reached a point at which he informed a colleague that he did not see himself continuing at Chelsea into a second season. While Chelsea’s recent attempts to pacify their title winning manager have resulted in Conte putting an ultimate decision on his future in abeyance, friends say he will not formally commit himself to continuing at the club until he is convinced on player recruitment.
Some of his concerns have, however, been resolved. Conte is now said to be happy with the financial terms offered by Chelsea to extend a contract which currently has two years left to run. If signed, the new deal will make the Italian the second best paid manager in the club’s history. Conte has also been permitted to alter his technical staff, including his own selection of a replacement for Steve Holland, the highly rated assistant manager who left for the England national team.
In addition to France international Bakayoko, Conte’s transfer demands include another top-class central midfielder, at least one physically powerful central defender, a new right back, a winger, and two central strikers. He has told Diego Costa that he is surplus to requirements, complicating Chelsea’s efforts to maximise their transfer income on last season’s leading goalscorer – money the club planned to use to extract Romelu Lukaku from Everton.