Long-term future at Chelsea the aim, says Antonio Conte
Manager denies contact from Inter Milan and talks of moving family to London
Antonio Conte: “I hope to stay and work a lot for this club, to win a lot.” Photograph: Tony O’Brien/Reuters
Despite rumoured interest from the Chinese owners of Internazionale in luring him back to Serie A, Antonio Conte says he sees his future with Chelsea, though he has admitted that separation from his family, who remain in Italy, has proved a strain since last year’s appointment at Stamford Bridge.
Conte signed a three-year contract in London after leaving his post as Italy’s coach and has seen his side establish a 10-point advantage at the top of the Premier League with 12 games to play. Chelsea, who meet West Ham at the London Stadium on Monday, are expected to open talks over new terms on the back of what looks a successful season in waiting, though Inter’s emergence as potential suitors, backed by the financial might of the Suning Holdings group, could add urgency to those negotiations.
The former Juventus manager denied he had been contacted personally by Inter over a possible switch at the end of the season, and suggested he was working with a long-term future at Chelsea in mind.
“I think my situation is very clear: I have a contract with Chelsea, and we are trying to build something important with the club, for the present and for the future,” he said. “Every coach, when starting work at a new club, hopes to stay many, many years because it means you are working very well. You have the possibility to improve your players, to improve your team, and to grow together. This season, we are doing this.
“We are putting a great foundation down for the present and, above all, for the future. In this moment, it’s a transition at Chelsea, a season where a lot of players who won a lot here have changed teams. So it’s normal for every coach to hope to stay many years in a club, and to work to improve your players and reach great results, to win. You know, especially with things fresh from [Claudio] Ranieri . . . you have to be ready for anything.
“But if you ask my opinion, I hope to stay and work a lot for this club, to win a lot with this club.”
Wife and daughter
The reality that the 47-year-old has yet to be joined by his wife, Elisabetta, and their young daughter, Vittoria, in London has been a frustration as he seeks to settle. Conte said last week that the couple had decided to postpone the whole family’s move to England so his wife could finish a university course.
“The only problem for me this season was the family missing me,” he said. “For sure, my family stayed in Italy. I’m working, and working for the future to try and bring them here and to stay together. Family is missing me, this is the truth. I hope they come here and stay here, also because I need them.”
Chelsea hope to travel to the London Stadium, where they were eliminated from the EFL Cup in October, with a fully fit squad, but will have to check on Eden Hazard after he sustained a kick in training on Wednesday. That has limited his involvement since, though Conte would hope not to switch from his tried and tested lineup.
The Italian has suggested his back-up striker Michy Batshuayi, who has interested West Ham in the past, still has work to do to earn a first Premier League start.
“Now he’s working very well for us,” Conte said. “He must continue to work and anything can happen. If he shows me he deserves to play, I’m ready to put him in the starting 11. If that doesn’t happen, I’ll continue this way. The present is the most important thing, to work hard now. At the end of the season we’ll look at the situation of every single player [and decide what happens next].”
– Guardian Service