Antonio Conte doesn’t seem like the type of man who would get scared by horror films, and yet, if you’ve listened to him recently, he almost sounds like he’s in one over at Tottenham.
It might not quite be Nightmare on Elm Street, but he’s certainly making it sound as if he’s living a Nightmare on High Road.
The Italian manager lambasted Tottenham players after their 3-3 draw against Southampton, calling them selfish and criticising the club culture in the process, and since then, all hell appears to have broken loose, with many expecting him to walk away or be fired in the next few days, which Corriere dello Sport cover on Wednesday.
Should it be the latter, he would need to get paid, which Tottenham probably don’t want to do, but regardless of the outcome, whether it be now or at the end of the season, there are clubs monitoring the situation.
The aforementioned Italian newspaper state ‘at least four big names are thinking about how to bring him back to Italy’, knowing that he would cost and demand a lot, but the fact he ‘wants to go home’ could work in their favour.
As things stand, the belief is Conte is ‘almost free’ from his Tottenham frustrations, because both he and the club are ‘reflecting on the common good and also on the severance pay’.
Either way, four clubs, all in Italy, are waiting for the moment he leaves.
Corriere start with Juventus, where they say ‘Conte became Conte in all his facets’, where he started winning trophies, making it a habit, all the while administrating ‘psychophysical pressure on the players’.
The Turin side remain a fond part of the Tottenham manager’s career, and his ‘desire to return’ there ‘has never been a mystery’.
Still, the Serie A giants are a club where ‘anything could always happen in the coming months’, including a door opening for the Tottenham manager.
We then move onto Inter Milan, the last club he was at before heading to London, grouped with AC Milan, as both clubs are in a ‘delicate phase of unstable equilibrium with their current managers’.
The former might be in the Champions League quarter-finals, and the latter might have won Serie A last season, but they have their current reasons to move on.
Conte left a ‘sweet memory’ at Inter before leaving in dramatic fashion, but a return is a ‘scenario that cannot be ruled out’, because Simone Inzaghi’s situation is ‘anything but stable’.
His €5m/year contract is still valid for ‘another season’, and that’s seen as the biggest problem for the cash-strapped club to overcome if they wanted to bring back the current Tottenham boss.
As for Milan, they might be the reigning Serie A champions, but they are struggling to be in a Champions League spot, just about scraping fourth in the standings to date.
Stefano Pioli, who does have credit after last season, could therefore see his contract ended early if he doesn’t qualify for Europe’s elite.
They know that a ‘free Conte on the market represents an opportunity’, which could turn into a real thing if they decide to part ways with their current manager.
Then comes AS Roma, the last of the four, where a certain José Mourinho, whom Tottenham know well, is in charge.
Their ‘alternating flow of results doesn’t allow certainties’ about the Portuguese’s future, even if the club’s current priority would be to keep him around.
Still, the manager ‘would like to clarify the projects with the owners’, especially how much they are prepared to back him in the transfer market going forward; a question likely to be asked by Conte as well.
Speaking of the Tottenham manager, he was approached four years ago, and his answer was ‘not today, yes in the future’.
If someone were to come in for Mourinho this summer, then Roma would certainly be an option for the Italian.
In all of these scenarios, Conte ‘knows that if he wants to work in Italy, he must make a nice gesture of a substantial wage cut’.
Then again, after what he has been paid of late at Tottenham, that shouldn’t be too much of an issue.