Aniel Levy is experienced enough to brush off speculation and is used to ignoring noise from his managers, but employing Antonio Conte must sometimes test the Tottenham chairman’s patience.
This week, following Spurs’ frustrating stalemate with Brentford which reduced their chances of a Champions League return, a fresh spate of reports has linked Conte with a summer exit, with the head coach believed to be interested in succeed Mauricio Pochettino in Paris. Saint Germain.
They raised the intriguing prospect of a sensational job swap between Conte and Pochettino, but Levy is sure to be increasingly infuriated by Conte’s departure threats and rumors of his interest in other jobs – even if the Italian side insist that PSG stories don’t come from them.
While the likely sacking of Pochettino by PSG offers Levy an attractive backstop should Conte walk away at the end of the season, the danger for the president is a repeat of last summer, which he spent at look for a new manager and fight with Harry Kane. about his future.
These concerns are part of Conte’s entire job, which is notoriously very demanding and described by a senior Chelsea official as making Jose Mourinho ‘look like a kitty’.
The hard-to-please manager will always demand more and his rhetoric should be seen, at least in part, as a way to pressure the club into giving him what he wants.
Clearly, there is an argument that Levy and general manager Fabio Paratici should do everything they can to appease Conte in the transfer market this summer.
Given Tottenham’s position in the food chain, the president may never again have one of the best coaches in the world, at the height of his powers, in his employ, and despite all the (justified) talk that Pochettino would be a better managerial profile for the club, backing Conte, still feels like Spurs’ best chance of real success next season.
For Levy, it’s not that simple, however. Conte’s short-term contract, which runs until the end of next season, and his apparent concerns that Spurs cannot afford to compete for the League title, mean Levy and Paratici will have to be particularly careful to sign players who suit both Conte. and the club this summer.
As Saturday’s draw demonstrated, Conte is firmly committed to his preferred system and, if he stays in north London, he wants at least six new players – including two full-backs and a centre-half left who can play in a back. Three. He also favors experienced senior players.
Conte has a tendency to leave clubs in better condition than he finds them, but Levy will always be wary of backing the head coach up to millions of pounds on specialist players when there remains a danger he could walk away as soon as he gets a more attractive offer, or at the end of his contract.
Levy has already shown an admirable willingness to back Conte, offloading club record signings Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso for nothing in January, and signing Dejan Kulusevski – a former Conte target at Inter Milan – and Rodrigo Bentancur from Juventus.
However, completely remodeling the team in Conte’s image poses long-term risks as his position and future remain uncertain, so Levy and Paratici need to tread carefully.
Liverpool’s rebuilding under Jurgen Klopp, on the other hand, was aided by his long-term commitment to the club, ensuring they could sign players suited to the German approach. Manchester City have done the same with Pep Guardiola but Spurs are at a disadvantage both by being more financially cautious than their market rivals and by having a rigid tactician whose future is uncertain.
Spurs have already spent £50m on a centre-half who excels at a back three and spending the same again on a left-footed version of Cristian Romero may not suit, say, Pochettino, who prefers to play a four-man defense (and might have also been happy to work with Lo Celso and Ndombele, as another example).
It could be in Conte’s interest to start showing some commitment to Spurs, starting with a new deal
The success of Kulusevski and Bentancur offers reason for optimism, proving that Paratici can find suitable targets for the club’s policy of young all-rounders while satisfying Conte, but this summer will certainly test the relationship between the two. Italians and Levy’s willingness to give in. control over big pair deals.
Paradoxically, by pushing Spurs to back him with a drip of hints and threats, Conte has arguably made it harder for the club to give him everything they want.
It could be in Conte’s interest to start showing some commitment to Spurs, starting with a new contract, if he is to convince the club to go all-out with his vision.