Fears are mounting that Antonio Conte will walk away from Tottenham this summer, amid claims he won’t be granted the funds needed to transform the club’s fortunes.
The Italian has made a big impression since taking over from Nuno Espirito Santo in November. He has the Spurs firmly in the mix for a top-four finish ahead of a big week of matches. First up, is the Saturday night clash with Liverpool at Anfield, before they host Arsenal on Thursday in what could be a decisive game.
However, Conte has often stressed that he is working with his hands tied behind his back. He reckons the squad he inherited at Tottenham lacks the depth he needs. Furthermore, there have been strong whisperings he could walk away at the season’s end.
And Conte has done little to ease speculation he could walk away with those fears peaking in February following a shock loss at Burnley.
The Italian’s deal expires at the end of next season, but he’s refused consistently rebuffed the chance to publicly commit to Spurs beyond this season.
Much of that will depend where Tottenham finish this season, as well as the funds he is granted in the summer window.
Speaking ahead of the Liverpool game, Conte has opened up on what is required to make Spurs a top side.
“To reduce this gap, you need to spend a lot of money because you need to buy important players,” Conte said. “You have to know this otherwise you cannot reduce this gap and hope always for a miracle.”
Opposite number Klopp recently extended his deal at Liverpool until 2026.
Asked if he could follow suit, Conte was again non-commital.
“First of all, it depends on the desire of the club,” he said. “When Liverpool put Jurgen in charge seven years ago, they wanted to build something important.
“If you want to create something important you need time and you need patience. Especially if you start working with a team that starts behind the top positions. It is not easy.
Antonio Conte on Spurs progress
“In these seven months, we did a really good job with the club. And in January signed two good players to improve the quality of the team.
“We did a good job but for sure you need time. Liverpool is a clear example. They struggled at the start of Klopp’s path to qualify for the Champions League. Maybe they needed four years before they started to win.
“In England, it is more difficult because you find in this moment, four teams that if they don’t have a bad season, fight for the Premier League, the Carabao Cup, the FA Cup and Champions League or Europa League.
“English teams are still present in every [European] competition: Champions, Europa and Conference.
“The final of the Carabao Cup was between Chelsea and Liverpool, now in the FA Cup, it’s Chelsea and Liverpool. The Premier League is a fight between Liverpool and Manchester City.
“It is not simple because you have a master in front of you. You need time, you need a big investment. You have to spend a lot of money if you want to be competitive and try to reduce this gap. Otherwise you have to accept to stay in the middle.”
Spurs have Graham Potter contingency plan
With the future looking far from certain for Antonio Conte, the Daily Telegraph claims Spurs are lining up Graham Potter in case the Italian quits.
The Brighton boss was among the contenders for the Spurs vacancy last summer as they sought a permanent successor to Jose Mourinho.
However, they eventually opted for Espirito Santo; that move ultimately proving a poor choice.
But Potter has never been far from Daniel Levy’s thinking and he continues to catch the Tottenham chairman’s eye.
Now the Telegraph claims he is their first choice this summer should Conte quit.
His contract at Brighton lasts until 2025 and it would take a hefty £10m fee to lure him away from the Seagulls.
Levy must spend to keep Conte at Tottenham
Daniel Levy must spend this summer to keep Antonio Conte at Tottenham amid interest from PSG
However, the paper claims that is a fee Levy is willing to pay, with Potter very much Tottenham’s contigency plan should Conte walk.
In fairness, he is probably the man they should have gone for instead of Nuno Espirito Santo last summer.
Potter has done a great job in steering Brighton well away from relegation danger despite limited funds.
But there is only so far he can take a team like theirs and he would surely not turn down the chance to manage Spurs if the opportunity came up.