Antonio Conte has batted away questions about whether he will still be at Tottenham Hotspur next season, admitting it would depend on whether the club are prepared to match his ambitions.
There have been plenty of reports this week suggesting that Conte wants to replace Mauricio Pochettino at Paris Saint-Germain (Le Parisien).
The Spurs boss dismissed the speculation as ‘fake news’ in his press conference on Friday (The Athletic) but he has now refused to commit his long-term future to the Lilywhites.
Conte suggested it will take time and patience to take Spurs to the level he wants to and hinted that his future will depend on whether the North London club are prepared to give him that time.
The Italian told Football.London: “It will be very important to understand how much time we need to fight for something important if we have the patience to wait because for sure this is a process.
“I always say to you that we need time and patience and we have to understand how much time we need and how much patience we have.
“This is the only (giggles to himself) the focus no, the focus no? We have to understand this and to understand if we can match my opinion and the club opinion.
“I repeat I am enjoying a lot to work here, I have a fantastic relationship with all the people who work here and with Daniel Levy our chairman and Fabio Paratici and the people who work here and for this reason it is right to at the end to have a good meeting, a private meeting, and to try to find the best solution for everybody.”
Tottenham are locked in a battle to qualify for the Champions League at the moment, and Conte admitted that while the team’s entire focus is on the task at hand, he has bigger ambitions for next season and beyond.
He said: “For sure if we are good, if we are very good to take this target [of fourth place] and it will be a great achievement for the club, for me. It would be important.
“Which are our ambitions for the future, it would be very important because I think that I deserve to try to fight for and to win trophies and to fight for something important, not for only sixth or seventh, eighth place, or if you have a fantastic season, fourth place.
“Only this, but I repeat this is my ambition and it is important to understand and fully match the ambition at the time that we need it.”
The 52-year-old added: “When you arrive in one place you don’t know a lot, but you can find [out].
“It was very positive my impact with Tottenham when I came here because from the first day I felt myself at home and every single person gave me availability and for a coach this is the best that you can find.
“You have to work and bring your idea. It’s good, and but now it is important to be focused and finish this season and then we will try the best possible solution for everybody.
“For sure when you start to stay for a good period in a club and you understand the dynamics, you start to know much better the people that work with you, the environment, and for sure I always said that I am enjoying a lot to work in Tottenham, to stay in Tottenham, and to come to the training ground, to breath this atmosphere.
“I can speak only well about Tottenham, about the club. For a coach, a manager, it is a good opportunity and you can enjoy your work here.
“Yeah but in this moment I have to be honest with you, in this moment, our minds, me, the club and the players have to be focused on the last five games.”
Despite admitting to enjoying his time at the North London club so far, Conte reiterated that he deserves to be competing for major honours, and that remains his ultimate ambition.
Conte added: “For sure, I said to you a lot of times, at the end of the season we speak with the club but with pleasure, in a really good way. To speak and try to find the best solution for everybody. This has to be clear.
“I repeat, don’t forget I like to have ambition, not only to fight for a place in the Champions League or a place in the [Europa] League. I think that, honestly, I want to fight for much more, you understand? For much more. I think also I deserve to do this.”
The Athletic’s Charlie Eccleshare remarked on The View from The Lane Podcast this week that the uncertainty over Conte’s future is affecting the Tottenham squad.
Despite being pressed on his plans for next season, the 52-year-old refused to commit his future to the club.
Conte said regarding next season: “I think that in this moment it’s important to be focused.
“I’ve been asked this many times and I’ve already answered. If you go back, my answer is always the same and my answer is still the same, to have another answer is not useful for anyone.
“I always answered this question in the past. My opinion didn’t change, my thoughts didn’t change, my ambition didn’t change. I am the same. What I said in the past was the truth.
“We are trying to do this season in the best possible way and then we will see. I am enjoying it a lot in Tottenham. For this reason, we will have a private meeting and we will try to find the best solution.”
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There is no reason for Conte to tie his own hands by committing himself to Spurs before the club assures him that they are ready to match his ambition.
So, one can understand the Italian’s reluctance to speak about next season. That does not mean that he is likely to walk away as I expect the Tottenham hierarchy to back him this summer.
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