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Conte remains coy about his Chelsea future

Posted on | April 4, 2018 | No Comments

Chelsea fans were in no mood for jokes and frivolities after their April Fool’s Day defeat against Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge. The 1-3 loss proved to be a decisive point in the season that left the Blues firmly outside the Premier League top four, while Spurs opened a gap of eight points above their London rivals.

Despite a stuttering start to the 2017-18 campaign with a frustrating defeat to Burnley at home on the opening day of the season, Chelsea recovered well and suffered only three more defeats in the back end of 2017, and though they have always been off the pace for the title race this season, a top-four finish almost seemed like a foregone conclusion.

However, just three Premier League wins in ten encounters during 2018 underlines the poor form of Conte’s side and with football betting odds at 10/1 for a top-four finish, Chelsea now look like they will have to settle for competing in the Europa League next season, rather than the habitual expectations of playing in the Champions League.

Conte refuses to quit

After winning the 2016-17 Premier League title, Conte still boasts a strong and successful coaching reputation, but throughout what has been a hugely frustrating 2017-18 campaign, his future with Chelsea has inevitably and frequently been questioned in recent months. The Italian coach himself has remained coy about discussing his position in press conferences, placing any such decision firmly in the hands of the club.

“We are having the season that we are deserving,” said Conte after the defeat against Tottenham, and in comments highlighted by The Guardian, he pointed towards a lack of key experience in his side. “Don’t forget in the last two or three years we lost important players for Chelsea. When you lose players with great experience and charisma and players used to winning, you lose a lot,” he suggested with reference to departed campaigners such as John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, or Petr Cech.

As for whether he would remain at the helm next season, Conte continues to remain coy about his future at the club. “I don’t know, I must be honest, I don’t know. This is not my problem, it’s a problem for the club,” he concluded. That problem, should Chelsea decide to make a change before the conclusion of the season, will reportedly cost the club around £9 million, although it’s widely expected a new manager will be in charge for the start of the 2018-19 season.

Chelsea facing a decisive summer

It’s not just a potential managerial change that Chelsea face in the summer, particularly if the team fails to secure a place in the Champions League for next season. There are growing concerns over the futures of several important players, who are entering the final years of their contracts at the club.

Thibaut Courtois will be entering the final year of his deal at Stamford Bridge, and with Real Madrid in the hunt for a new goalkeeper, the Belgian shot-stopper could be lured back to the Spanish capital, following his successful stint a few years ago with Atletico Madrid. With two years left on his contract, speculation also gathers pace that Eden Hazard could also head to the Santiago Bernabéu, with Zinedine Zidane a keen admirer of the supremely talented 27-year-old.

Should Chelsea make their expected managerial change in the summer, any new coach will need to act quickly to ensure the best existing talent remains, with the likes of Luis Enrique and Thomas Tuchel having been touted as candidates for the post, if Conte departs. Undoubtedly, Roman Abramovic will also need to dip into his deep pockets, in order to fund what could be another big summer of spending for the London club, if they’re to be considered a genuine contender for the biggest prizes next season.

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