Antonio Conte has refused to rule out leaving Chelsea in the summer, saying “everything is possible” in response to speculation about his exit.
The Juventus manager, Massimiliano Allegri, has been linked with taking Conte’s position at Stamford Bridge in the event that he departs in pre-season, a year before the end of his contract. Conte stressed, though, that it would be the club’s decision and suggested that Chelsea’s high turnover of coaches increases the amount of scrutiny on the role.
When asked about the link with Allegri, who has been joined by Luis Enrique and the Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri on Chelsea’s list of reported targets, Conte said: “Everything is possible. I have another year of contract at this club, but everything is possible. In one moment you stay here; in another moment you are in another place and another person replaces you and your job. Football is like this. Our job is very difficult – everything can change a few times.”
Pressed later on whether that means he could walk away from the club, Conte offered a flat “no” and said he was “fully committed”. He explained Chelsea would have to break his contract, also saying the club’s history – Conte is their fifth full-time manager this decade while Rafael Benítez and Guus Hiddink have also taken interim roles – makes rumours inevitable.
“It is normal for the manager of this club to have this type of situation, also if you won last season the league and reached the final of the FA Cup – this is the history of this club for the manager,” he said, perhaps thinking back to Carlo Ancelotti’s sacking in 2011, a year after winning the double. “I have a lot of experience in dealing with this type of situation but there is something strange if after the first game, which we lost against Burnley, the press push quickly to sack me. In another club this doesn’t happen.
“I have another year of contract and in this case I think the club has to decide to send me away. We have started a big work here with the players and the club, and you need time to improve your work and create a solid basis. In football now it is very difficult to predict if you can stay many years with one club, especially in England. Before, managers in England were in charge for many years. Now all of a sudden you decide to sack managers earlier.”
Conte, whose side face Leicester City at home on Saturday, was also asked about a conversation he held with Alexis Sánchez in the tunnel at Stamford Bridge before the Arsenal game on Wednesday night. He is a long-term fan of the 29-year-old but said that, if Manchester City wish to sign him, Chelsea would be powerless even in the event they were interested.
“He’s a great player and knows very well that in my first season at Juventus we tried to buy him from Udinese, but then he decided to go to Barcelona,” he said. “He knows well my admiration for him and this was a good chance to say hello to him. I have great admiration for great players and Alexis Sánchez is one of those players.
“If Manchester City want Alexis Sánchez then they buy Alexis Sánchez. They don’t have a problem about money or this investment. I think it is a good investment – we are talking about a price that is not so high. The amount is around Ł20m. Maybe the normal amount is €80m to €90m.”
A more local concern for Conte is the form of Álvaro Morata, who has scored only five times in his past 21 games and looks short of confidence in front of goal. Conte acknowledged the striker’s difficult spell but said he is happy with his overall contribution.
“Álvaro is a really good guy and I have no problem,” he said. “I am sure that this is a [tough] period but this period is normal and every player can pass this kind of situation. When the striker doesn’t score we can say he is in trouble, but for me the most important thing is that he continues to work for the team and do what I ask from him during the game. I am happy with him.”