Premier League • England

Forward left feeling like a fool takes swipe at Antonio Conte for ‘contradicting himself’ and making false promises

Antonio Conte of Inter Milan attends a press conference after being defeated by Juventus F.C. during the 2019 International Champions Cup football tournament in Nanjing city, east China's Jiangsu province in 2019

A former Chelsea striker has taken aim at Tottenham boss Antonio Conte for delivering false promises and fooling him about his gametime.

Antonio Conte is widely regarded as one of the world’s truly top tier managers. He’s won league titles at each of his three previous clubs (Juventus, Chelsea, Inter Milan), and wasted little time transforming Tottenham into a well-oiled machine.

The Spurs job is his second spell in England after previously managing Chelsea between 2016-18.

The Italian guided Chelsea to the Premier League title in his first year and backed that up with an FA Cup success the season after.

His first campaign in particular impressed. Chelsea notched 93 points – their second highest Premier League total ever (2004/05 = 95pts).

Diego Costa led the line superbly with Conte altering his customary 3-5-2 formation he deployed at Juventus into a 3-4-3.

That meant one of his first recruits, Michy Batshuayi, was left in the lurch and struggled for gametime. Conte’s regular wingers flanking Costa were Eden Hazard and either Pedro or Willian.

Batshuayi was a costly £33m signing from Marseille and speaking to Belgian outlet SPORT, claimed he was promised a far greater role than he received by Conte.

“I’ve been fooled far too often” – Batshuayi

“Conte was constantly contradicting himself,” said Batshuayi.

“To start with, my arrival. He called me and explained his project. He wanted me to play in a two-man frontline alongside Diego Costa.

“Did I believe that? Of course, because Conte has played with two attackers all his career, except at Chelsea with me. I do not understand.

“The truth is that I have been fooled far too often.”

Conte reverted to his 3-5-2 formation at Inter Milan. Lautaro Martinez played alongside Romelu Lukaku up top with that deadly duo firing Inter to Serie A glory in 2021.

Conte has redeployed the 3-4-3 at Tottenham, and in the meantime, Batshuayi has finally found a new permanent club in the form of Fenerbahce.

Both Conte and Batshuayi have fair points

Now 28, Batshuayi’s career has meandered with a strong sense of ‘what if’ in tow.

He was loaned out from Chelsea on five separate occasions and regularly showed what he was capable of.

Indeed, in spells at Borussia Dortmund (2018), Crystal Palace (2019) and most recently Besiktas (2021-22), Batshuayi operated at around a goal every other game.

His record at international level is even better, with 26 goals struck in just 46 appearances for Belgium.

Yet it cannot be argued Conte made the wrong decision given Chelsea won the league in the season Batshuayi was signed and remained rooted to the bench.

As such, the talent has clearly always been there, but the timing of his move to Chelsea just didn’t fit.