Antonio Conte avoids contract talks as Chelsea poised for title

Victory against West Brom would secure the Premier League at the Italian’s first attempt

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte: Avoided speculation about Inter’s interest in him. Photograph: Matthew Childs/Livepic

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte: Avoided speculation about Inter’s interest in him. Photograph: Matthew Childs/Livepic

 

Chelsea will attempt to claim the Premier League title at the Hawthorns today with their manager, Antonio Conte, still heavily coveted by Internazionale and any talks over a contract extension apparently far from his priority.

Victory against West Bromwich Albion would secure the Premier League at the first attempt under Conte’s stewardship. The manager has two years to run on his £6.5 million-a-season deal but Chelsea are expected to offer him improved terms.

Those negotiations will play out with Inter, under money-flushed Chinese owners, having this week sacked their head coach Stefano Pioli. They have prioritised Conte as a replacement and the Italian, asked to offer assurances he would lead Chelsea into a Champions League campaign next season, was equivocal.

“I have a contract for another two years with Chelsea but, for me and my players, the important thing is to be focused on the present,” Conte said. “This moment is very important. The future is not important for any single person: me, or the players. It’s normal to have a lot of speculation around players and coaches, so it’s important not to lose the concentration and be focused as we try to reach this fantastic target.

Continue and improve

“It’s logical that, when you start in a new club, the will is to continue and improve your work for many years. For sure, this is my will. But, now, the most important thing is to reach our target.”

Conte expects to be joined by his wife and daughter in London over the summer but earns significantly less than Pep Guardiola, José Mourinho or Arsène Wenger. The scope is there to use Inter’s interest as a means of securing far better terms.

“The most important thing is to win, not the money,” he said. “But what the money does explain is your value; the real value of a player or a coach. If you show you deserve it, then you have earned [your] money.

“If, in the future, we decide to extend my contract then we’ll decide this. But it’s not important, this. I have two more years of contract and, I repeat, it’s important to win and write the history of this club with my players. Money is important, but it’s not everything.”

Guardian service

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