Tottenham manager exclusive: Current Conte stance revealed; lowdown on Pochettino return as one big name completely ruled out
In an exclusive chat with journalist Ben Jacobs, TEAMtalk brings you the latest on Antonio Conte’s future at Tottenham, the chances of a return for Mauricio Pochettino and the other candidates in the frame to replace the Italian – if he moves on this summer.
Conte’s long-term future in north London remains an unanswered question. And, with the former Inter Milan chief currently recovering from gallbladder surgery there are no immediate signs that it will resolved any time soon.
And while that remains the case, talk of a return for Mauricio Pochettino continues to gather momentum. However, the Argentine is not the only name in the frame to potentially replace Conte. To that end, Jacobs has also given us an update on two other candidates for the job.
The trusted reporter told us: “Antonio Conte is looking at the Tottenham project based not only on whether they have Champions League football, and can get it consistently, but also the strategy behind the club. And its recruitment model, and its level of funding.
“What he will want is a clear investment into the team to bring in one or two marquee signings. The frustration, I think, from Antonio Conte, or the fear, at least, is that perhaps Tottenham moved one step forwards last season. And now he’s waiting a little bit to see whether or not it’s another step forwards or two steps back.
“And because his contract expires in June, it will now I think, depend on the next few weeks for all parties to understand whether or not there’s any possibility of extension. Or whether Tottenham are ultimately looking for a new manager.”
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Levy keeping all his options open
With Conte’s situation still a fairly perilous one, Daniel Levy is unsurprisingly keeping an eye out on potential replacements.
And Jacobs added: “I think that from Daniel Levy’s perspective, he is looking at the market to see who’s out there. That’s just part of normal due diligence and planning when your manager’s contract is dwindling down.
“And that’s why we’re seeing names like Mauricio Pochettino and also the relatively new Brighton manager, Roberto De Zerbi as well.
“With Pochettino, he’s biding his time. He’s not really a manager that’s like to move mid-season, unless an outstanding challenge presents itself. And that’s why I think after departing PSG he’s in absolutely no hurry.
“And from Pochettino’s point of view, I don’t think that he’s fixed only on one job. We know that he was intrigued and would have put his name in the hat for the England job if Gareth Southgate hadn’t extended. And it’s also true that both Daniel Levy and Pochettino would be open to a Spurs move again.
“So the return isn’t putting off anybody. In fact, Levy and Pochettino have got an excellent relationship. Both on a professional and personal level, they are still in touch.
“From Levy’s point of view, and the wider club hierarchy, there will be no problems bringing Pochettino back. And I think that should the Spurs job become available, Poch would be very interested, but he won’t be the only candidate.”
Two other names in frame for Tottenham job
Indeed, Pochettino is not the only target for Levy and Spurs, with Jacobs also speaking on the club’s interest in De Zerbi and also former Chelsea chief Thomas Tuhcel.
He added: “There will be other names should a vacancy arise. And I do think whether it is this summer, or whether it’s in the future, De Zerbi he is going to be in demand because he’s managed to come straight in and build on everything that Graham Potter created at Brighton.
“But he hasn’t been there that long, which obviously will make it a little bit harder to prize him away from Brighton in the short term. It’s not impossible, a lot of people thought that Chelsea wouldn’t be able to get Potter so quickly. And Brighton cooperated.
“That’s because when somebody wants to leave, if it is in their interests financially, and if they can line up somebody, they are a club that are very easy to deal with.
“So I think that Pochettino will be there. But first and foremost, Tottenham need to establish with Antonio Conte exactly what the plan is. And even though there were some reports a few weeks ago, and even months back, that he was definitely leaving, the situation is still a little bit uncertain.
“So even if it appears to be heading in that direction, Tottenham are quite calm about the situation. And if they have a good end to the season, and go on a Champions League run, turn the tie around against Milan, and qualify for the top four a lot may change in terms of Conte’s thinking. And also that funding that could be available to him.
“But if the eventuality comes where Conte leaves, and obviously that contract is ticking down, then Pochettino is one to watch.”
No chance of Tuchel at Tottenham
However, one manager who will not take over in north London and is former Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel.
The German has been mooted as a potential Conte replacement but has no chance, according to Jacobs.
He added: “The other name I would just mention briefly, that keeps being linked with Tottenham is Thomas Tuchel.
“My understanding is that Daniel Levy doesn’t see Tuchel as a fit for Tottenham. And Tuchel himself is not necessarily pushing that one at this stage.
“So I think that Tuchel cannot be considered a likely future Spurs manager or a frontrunner in any way. At least, not for as long as Daniel Levy remains at the club.
“There’s plenty of other names in Tottenham’s thinking that are ahead of him if Conte leaves. And although there’s a growing feeling that that may happen. We still have to wait and see how the rest of the season or certainly the next few months, pans out before we can start talking a bit more seriously about replacements.”
Tottenham are back in action on Sunday when they host struggling Chelsea in the Premier League.
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