Tottenham: Roberto De Zerbi joins Thomas Frank and Steve Cooper in playing down Spurs links

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Roberto De Zerbi has joined fellow Premier League managers Thomas Frank and Steve Cooper in distancing himself from the Tottenham job.

The highly-rated Brighton boss has been linked with potentially succeeding Antonio Conte at Spurs, having performed brilliantly at the Amex Stadium since arriving in the aftermath of Graham Potter's departure to Chelsea in September.

De Zerbi has taken on Potter's impressive work on the south coast, ensuring they did not skip a beat after the latter's exit. He also withstood the further departure of influential winger Leandro Trossard to Arsenal plus another drawn-out January transfer saga involving key midfielder Moises Caicedo to have the Seagulls sitting eighth in the Premier League after 23 matches and in the thick of the hunt for European qualification with a string of high-profile scalps to their name.

Brighton are also heavily favoured to reach the FA Cup semi-finals with a home last-eight showdown against fourth-tier Grimsby on the agenda next weekend.

De Zerbi’s exploits have seen him heavily linked with a move away from the Amex after only six months in charge, with Tottenham said to be keen on the Italian coach.

Roberto De Zerbi has been linked with replacing Antonio Conte in the Tottenham hotseat (Getty Images)
Roberto De Zerbi has been linked with replacing Antonio Conte in the Tottenham hotseat (Getty Images)

Spurs are sticking with the embattled Antonio Conte for now, though he now looks certain to leave north London when his current contract expires at the end of the season following their meek Champions League last-16 exit against AC Milan - with an earlier exit possible if the club’s top-four ambitions suffer any further in the coming weeks.

Managing director Fabio Paratici is already understood to have drawn up a shortlist of possible Conte replacements headed by former Barcelona and Spain boss Luis Enrique, with a potential sensational return to N17 for Mauricio Pochettino also mooted.

However, ex-Shakhtar Donetsk manager De Zerbi - whom some recent reports have claimed has an £11.5million release clause in his deal - insists he is perfectly content to stay at Brighton having enjoyed the challenge since signing a four-year contract.

“I have a long contract with Brighton and I’m happy to work here,” the Italian told reporters at a Friday press conference held before the trip to Leeds this weekend.

“I enjoy working with these players, I’m delighted with their performance. I can’t ask for more, it’s a good moment in my life.”

On Thursday, Frank also brushed away any speculation that he could leave high-flying Brentford for London rivals Spurs, while another possible target in Cooper insisted he was fully focused on the task at hand at Nottingham Forest as they bid to avoid relegation back to the Championship.

“First, they have a manager which is a manager I have studied for years and I admire massively,” Frank said.

“I think he has achieved some fantastic results so I hope he will do well and I hope Spurs do well. Secondly, I am very, very happy here at Brentford.”

Thomas Frank and Steve Cooper have also both distanced themselves from the Tottenham job (Getty Images)
Thomas Frank and Steve Cooper have also both distanced themselves from the Tottenham job (Getty Images)

Cooper, who takes his Forest side to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday, said: “The only thing that it is is irrelevant. The most important thing for me is the game, the guys I am working with every single day and I am trying to be at my best and do a good day’s work and try and get them to do the same.

“Then we give ourselves a chance of trying to be a better team. We are embracing that challenge, we have had a lot of hurdles we have had to overcome this season, I am loving this journey with the players.

“It is a challenging one but one I am enjoying. But anything outside that bubble is irrelevant.

“The moment I am not thinking about Nottingham Forest or the players or the staff or how I can be at my best is the moment I am not getting it right, that’s not what I want to be, I want to be all-in, that’s what I am and I am not looking further than going to Tottenham on Saturday.”