Antonio Conte leaves Tottenham by mutual consent in surprise late-night announcement

Antonio Conte leaves Tottenham by mutual consent in surprise late-night announcement

Antonio Conte has left Tottenham by mutual consent, ending his reign as manager three months before the end of his contract.

Conte's long-time number two Cristian Stellini will take charge of the final ten Premier League games of the season as acting head coach, with support from Ryan Mason, who will step up to assistant head coach.

Conte's position became untenable after his furious outburst in which he criticised the “spirit” and professionalism of his players and accused them of being “selfish” after last Saturday's 3-3 draw with Southampton.

He went back to Italy the day after the match and showed no inclination to return to work, with the club having spent nearly a week mulling over his future and thought to be discussing terms of exit with the 53-year-old - while Stellini and Mason took training.

Spurs chairman Daniel Levy is now searching for a 12th permanent Spurs manager on his watch and fourth since Mauricio Pochettino was sacked in November 2019, with Julian Nagelsmann, Oliver Glasner, Pochettino, Luis Enrique and Roberto De Zerbi among the possible contenders for role in the summer.

In a brief statement accompanying the news late on Sunday night, Levy declined to mention or thank Conte, saying only: “We have 10 Premier League games remaining and we have a fight on our hands for a Champions League place.

“We all need to pull together. Everyone has to step up to ensure the highest possible finish for our Club and amazing, loyal supporters.”

Conte's salary was around £15million-a-year, which would mean he is due around £4m if Spurs agreed to pay off the remainder of his contract.

Conte had consistently refused to commit to Spurs beyond the end of the season, when the contract he signed in November 2021 expired, and talks between the pair had long since ceased, with little appetite from the club to trigger an option extending his deal by a further 12 months.

Before his rant at St. Mary's, however, Conte had been expected to see out the season, with Spurs on course for consecutive top-four finishes under the Italian.

He leaves them in fourth-place but his standing was also significantly weakened by meek cup exits to Championship Sheffield United and AC Milan in the space of a week, in the FA Cup fifth-round and Champions League last-16, respectively. Spurs lost to Nottingham Forest in the League Cup third-round in November, and Conte leaves them still waiting for a first trophy since 2008.

Conte guided Spurs back into the Champions League after a two-year absence last season, winning 10 of their final 14 League games, including a 3-0 victory over rivals Arsenal - surely the high-point of his tenure. They were the top scoring Premier League team in 2022, although Conte insisted their return to Europe's top table was “a miracle”.

Spurs spent over £100million on new players over the summer but Richarlison and Yves Bissouma have disappointed, while Conte labelled Djed Spence “a club signing” and the full-back barely featured before being sent on loan to Rennes in January.

But by his own admission, the team has gone backwards this season and failed to match the performances from the second half of last term.