Tottenham draw up Antonio Conte replacement shortlist with Luis Enrique top target
Antonio Conte is on Friday afternoon due to face the media as Tottenham stick by their head coach for now, despite succession planning having already begun behind the scenes.
Wednesday night’s tame Champions League last-16 defeat by AC Milan has effectively signalled the beginning of the end of Conte’s tenure, with the Italian all-but certain to leave the club when his contract expires this summer, if not sooner.
Managing director Fabio Paratici is understood to have already drawn up a shortlist of possible replacements, headed by former Spain and Barcelona boss Luis Enrique.
Spurs have, however, decided against a swift move to axe the coach in the wake of the Milan debacle and Conte is set to be in the dugout when they host Nottingham Forest in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon, looking to consolidate their position in the top four.
Champions League qualification is now the club’s sole aim for the remainder of the season after hopes of ending a 15-year trophy drought were dashed with cup exits in successive weeks.
Paratici was influential in appointing Conte in 2021, having worked with the manager previously at Juventus, but there are question marks over the 50-year-old’s own future at Tottenham as he awaits the verdict on an appeal over a 30-month ban from working in football.
The suspension currently only applies to Italian football but is likely to be extended across Europe should the appeal fail. A decision is due within the next month.
Chairman Daniel Levy will therefore have his own views on potential successors to Conte and would be the driving force behind any return for Mauricio Pochettino.
The Argentine was sacked by Levy in November 2019, six months after leading the club to the Champions League final, but the pair have remained on good terms and Pochettino is open to a second spell, though Spurs may have to battle with interest from Real Madrid come the summer.
Former Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel and Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi have also been linked with the post, though De Zerbi insisted on Friday that he was happy at the Amex.
Conte will on Friday afternoon likely be asked to clarify comments he made following the Milan defeat, when he suggested he could be relieved of his duties before the campaign is out.
“My contract expires in June,” the 53-year-old said. “We will see — they might sack me even before the end of the season, who knows, maybe they are disappointed.”
Meanwhile, the club are also expected to consider whether it would be appropriate to sanction forward Richarlison for his own post-match outburst. The £60million signing criticised Conte over his lack of playing time and admitted his first season at Spurs “has been s**t” in an explosive interview.