Noel Whelan believes some Tottenham stars are only at the club because of manager Antonio Conte, whose potential exit could create a big problem for the club.
The Italian has yet to commit his long-term future to Spurs, with his current contract running out at the end of the season. And links to old club Juventus have left fans in north London sweating over whether Conte could walk away.
Indeed, Max Allegri’s struggles in Turin have sparked rumours that Conte could replace his fellow countryman.
Conte appeared to put those rumours to bed in his press conference prior to the north London derby. He slammed the reports as ‘disrespectful’ but refused to discuss extending his stay in north London.
However, Conte has previously stated that Tottenham have ‘the whole season’ to find the ‘best solution’ to his contract situation.
The Italian played a part in bringing Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur to the club in January. Meanwhile, Ivan Perisic arrived in the summer from Conte’s old club Inter Milan.
And Whelan feels there is no point in Tottenham making further signings until Conte’s future is fully resolved.
He told Football Insider: “They’ll be working hard behind the scenes to get this sorted.
“Because at the moment, there’s no point making any more signings if he’s not going to be there next season.
“A lot of players come into football clubs because of the manager and that is the case for a few of Spurs’ players.
“There’s a long-term plan, but it only works if Conte is the manager.
“I don’t think Tottenham will want to wait until the summer to sort it out. They’ll be working hard to figure out how they can keep him for at least three years.
“Look at what he’s done in a year, he’s transformed them into trophy contenders.
“Without Conte, I’m not sure. I think the players are there for him.
“I just believe he’s at the beginning of this job and something special could come out of it.”
First league defeat leaves bitter taste for Conte
Conte’s Tottenham side suffered their first league defeat of the season at north London rivals Arsenal on Saturday.
A lacklustre display at The Emirates was worsened by a red card for Emerson Royal in the second half. And Conte was left frustrated that his side did not make the most of some first-half opportunities.
Speaking after the game, he told BT Sport: “I think the first half was in the balance. We had many chances to score. We made a big mistake with the last pass because we had great space. In the second half we conceded a second goal early and we could do much better.
“With the red card, [went] the game. It was a really difficult game after that. We had to change totally then. It was the referee’s decision and I don’t want to comment.
“The game was over after 70 minutes!”
Antonio Conte gives his thoughts on his side’s loss to Arsenal and why he made such big changes late on in the game… 🤍
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) October 1, 2022
“We had the opportunity to exploit much better and stay up and I repeat that I think we made big mistakes in the last pass and with easy passes. But it happens and straight after the national team it is a bit difficult because players arrive at a different time.
“Now we have to move on but we know our role in this league and we have to try and do our best to stay close to the other teams at the top.”