“I Won’t Discuss Rumors Of Leaving Chelsea” – Conte
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte refused to discuss his potential departure at the end of the season amid mounting speculation that the Premier League club are ready to replace him.
Conte has been coy when questioned about his future throughout a troubled season and the Italian once again took a dismissive approach to the subject following reports Napoli’s Maurizio Sari is Chelsea’s top choice to take charge.
Fifth-placed Chelsea are 10 points adrift of the Premier League’s top four with only six games remaining and failure to qualify for the Champions League certain to end Conte’s two-year reign.
Conte, who has been linked with a return to his former role as Italy coach, dropped strong hints that he was unhappy with Chelsea’s transfer policy as they struggled to defend the Premier League tite – leading many to believe a parting would be acceptable to both the manager and his club.
But publicly at least, Conte, whose side face Southampton on Saturday, insists no decision has been taken.
“This is not my job to answer this type of question. My job is to work with these players and try and finish this season as strongly as possible,” he said.
“There is always speculation around our position. This is not only for me, but for a lot of coaches. This is our job.
“For us, for me, the most important thing now is to be focused on Chelsea and to try to improve, to improve this season and finish in the best possible way.
“Honestly, I’m not curious. Also because I don’t read the papers.
“My only worry is to do my job and my work with my players in the best way possible.”
Conte isn’t the only high-profile name who could leave Chelsea this summer.
Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who spent three seasons on loan with Atletico Madrid between 2011 and 2014, has been linked with a close-season return to Spain.
“My answer is always the same (about Courtois’ contract),” Conte said. “We are talking about a really good goalkeeper. But, as you know very well, this is a problem to solve between the club and Thibaut.”
Conte was also asked about the future of former Leicester midfielder Danny Drinkwater.
“Drinkwater’s having an unlucky season. He has started this season with a problem in his calf. Now he’s struggling with another problem. It’s not the time to talk about one player,” he said.