However, the Italian head coach denied such reports in his press conference prior to the Leicester City match, labelling them as ‘fake news’ (Football.London).
So let’s assume then that he does stay, at least through the end of his contract. What do Tottenham need to do to improve for the 2022-23 campaign?
Convince Harry Kane to stay
This could be more difficult if Tottenham don’t finish the season in fourth and grab a Champions League spot. However, maybe it really isn’t as difficult as it seems…
If Conte stays put, why wouldn’t Kane want to stay and play for a world-class manager? Not to mention, Kane can cause all the issues he wants in the summer – just like last year – but he is under contract, so Spurs have all the leverage.
So even if Harry Kane wants to leave, Spurs don’t have to let him.
But if Conte sticks around, I’d expect Kane to as well.
Recruit a backup striker
And while Spurs have a world-class striker in Kane, they have shown that outside of him and Son Heung-min, they struggle to score goals.
While the acquisition of Dejan Kulusevski in the January transfer window has given the team’s attack a perhaps unexpected boost, they need someone on the bench who can score goals and spell Harry Kane when he either needs a rest or is injured.
It looked that maybe it would be Steven Bergwijn to fill that role after he scored a double in a comeback win against Leicester a few months back, but he hasn’t done much since.
After winning Spurs the match against the Foxes, Bergwijn has scored just once – in a 5-1 win over Newcastle (Transfermarkt).
In other words, it is clear the team needs a proven goalscorer to provide a spark off the bench, and maybe even as a starter in occasional matches if necessary.
Add another (attacking) midfielder
As mentioned previously, Dejan Kulusevski has been a revelation since arriving in North London. And while he can play many positions – including midfielder – it is clear his best position may be as a right-winger.
This means Spurs need another midfield player. Rodrigo Bentancur has been fantastic since arriving alongside Kulusevski, but another, more attacking option would really benefit Spurs in the midfield.
Perhaps a Christian Eriksen reunion? Who knows if it could really happen, but Tottenham has struggled to replace him since he left for Inter Milan. So why not just bring him back and fill the hole that way?
After all, it is Spurs, so stranger things have happened.
Find a right wing-back
Conte prefers a 3-5-2 formation and the use of wing-backs, it is clear, particularly on the right side, that Spurs need an upgrade in that position.
While being a decent defender, it is clear that Emerson Royal does not offer a whole lot going forward. Matt Doherty has also been much improved under Conte than previous Spurs managers, but he is not a high-quality option.
In order to make the team into the shape that fits his preferred style, Spurs must give Conte the funds to acquire wing-backs in the summer window.
And the rest…
Tottenham could also do with a left centre-back, a back-up goalkeeper, and perhaps another winger if Steven Bergwijn exits the club. An extra holding midfielder and a goal threat at left-wing-back would also be a bonus.
If Conte goes
So here is the reverse scenario. Let’s say Spurs miss out on Champions League football and Antonio Conte leaves due to the club’s lack of ambition.
Then what does the club do?
Time for a rebuild
If Conte leaves, it’s time for the club to rebuild entirely. At this point, they’ve qualified for the Europa League and don’t have the team to compete for minor trophies, let alone the Premier League title.
So instead of finishing somewhere between fourth and eighth for the foreseeable future and being miles off from Manchester City, Liverpool, and even Chelsea, Tottenham need to go into a full rebuild.
Sell Harry Kane
If Conte goes and Spurs finish outside the top four, Harry Kane being a major distraction during the summer is more than likely, especially after last year.
If he doesn’t want to stay any longer and the team around him can’t win, Kane shouldn’t feel the need to stick around, and the club should honour his likely request to leave.
Not to mention getting as much in return for Kane as possible is key since he will be nearing 30 years of age and has a history of injuries.
If the rebuild is coming, spare Kane the possibility of living through it in the final years of his contract. He’s a club legend, and he deserves better.
Hire a long-term manager
If a rebuild is coming, Spurs need a manager who will be there until the project is complete. Much like Mauricio Pochettino when he was hired (but don’t hire him again, please), the club needs a coach with the potential to get better as the team he manages does too.
Hiring someone like Graham Potter or Thomas Frank would go a long way in providing stability to a club that has had four managers in just over 12 months.
Determine the future core
This would be a very important first step for a new manager that could come in.
Look at the overall squad. If Tanguy Ndombele or Giovani Lo Celso aren’t in his plans, part ways with them as soon as possible. Get rid of any fringe players they don’t like and let them use the resulting funds to sign their own players.
If there are players not fit for the team going forward, send them out on loan, or even better, sell them if possible. It does no good to keep players around that don’t want to be at the club or don’t need to be.
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