Tottenham manager Antonio Conte has hit out at “disrespectful” rumours linking him with a swift move back to Juventus in the near future.
Conte has got Spurs back on a better track following a few tough years at the north London club. After returning to the Premier League’s top four, they are looking to advance in the top flight and in Europe.
Tottenham remain unbeaten in the former competition. However, a loss to Sporting in the Champions League was a wake-up call after some unconvincing performances.
Despite Conte’s progress, there is still uncertainty over his future. The Italian has an option to extend his contract, which runs out next summer, but he has been linked with Juventus.
Massimiliano Allegri is under pressure in Turin and Spurs reportedly have a candidate in mind to replace him.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, though, Conte dismissed the rumours out of hand.
He laughed and said: “It’s incredible that in this period and I think this is disrespectful for the Juventus coach and disrespectful for me [when] working for Tottenham.
“We’ve just started the season. Many times I spoke about this topic and I always said to you I’m happy and enjoying my time with Tottenham.
“Then we have the whole season to find the best solution for the club and for me.”
Conte added that he has a “great relationship” with Tottenham owner Daniel Levy and managing director Fabio Paratici. He said that he “doesn’t see a problem in this moment”.
“And I don’t want in the future to listen to someone speak about this because it’s disrespectful to the other coach and to me,” he concluded.
Antonio Conte focused on Tottenham
Conte instead turned his attentions to Saturday’s crunch north London derby against Arsenal.
As for Tottenham’s tactics, the manager has largely stuck to his trademark 3-4-3 formation which helped him win the Premier League with Chelsea.
However, he admitted that switching to a midfield three could work against the table-topping Gunners at the Emirates Stadium.
“For sure it could be a good option because we have midfielders who are good also to play in a three,” Conte said.
“[Yves] Bissouma when he came in against Leicester played well and he was really good integrating with Pierre [Emile-Hojbjerg] and Rodrigo Bentancur.
“This could be an option not only for tomorrow but for the future if we need to rest players, especially when you have this type of situation as happened when [Dejan] Kulusevski has this injury.”
Tottenham could be without Sweden international Kulusevski amid a hamstring problem.
Ben Davies, Hugo Lloris and Lucas Moura will also have to prove their fitness for Saturday’s match.
Spurs need to bounce back
Tottenham, despite losing only once in the first part of the season before the international break, were not entirely convincing.
Even against Leicester, they may have won 6-2, but Lloris enjoyed a busy evening keeping the Foxes out.
The good thing for Tottenham is that their attack could well be back in its best form.
And Son Heung-min in particular has found his goalscoring touch again. After his hat-trick against Leicester, he scored a free-kick for South Korea in the break.
He will subsequently return to action full of confidence, with Harry Kane looking to add to his strong start to the campaign – at club level, at least.
As for Conte’s future, all really will depend on how Tottenham fare this season. Should Spurs advance, there is every chance the serial title winner extends his future. If not, fans should certainly feel worried.