Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Antonio Conte: I am happy at Chelsea

Head coach Antonio Conte insists he is happy at Chelsea and does not know why rumours persist of a summer move to Inter Milan.

The 47-year-old former Juventus and Italy head coach has been linked with a move to Inter after impressing in his first season in England, which could yet end with a Premier League and FA Cup double.

Conte signed a three-year contract a year ago before taking up his position last July and expressed contentment in London and frustration about conjecture over his future from Italy.

"I stay here. I'm very happy to stay here," Conte said.

"This is the most important thing. I don't like when I listen to other persons talking about me.

"I don't know why, but I think it's normal to try to involve my name in this situation.

"I worked in Italy. They want to come back for me in Italy.

"I have two more years of contract with Chelsea. This is the truth."

This week also saw suggestions former Juventus and Italy midfielder Andrea Pirlo could join Conte's coaching team this summer, when assistant boss Steve Holland joins England full-time.

Pirlo is currently playing for New York City FC in Major League Soccer.

Conte said: "In this period I'm listening (to) a lot of things. This is very strange, for example: Andrea Pirlo is playing and he wants to continue to play."

Conte's focus remains on completing the season.

He added: "We want to finish very good and (for) a good season to become a great season for us."

The Blues have a seven-point lead over second-placed Tottenham entering this weekend's fixtures, with Conte targeting six wins from the remaining eight games to be mathematically certain of the title.

Conte insisted that while Chelsea and Spurs are the main contenders, the title race is wide open. Liverpool are third, 12 points adrift of Chelsea and five behind Spurs having played a game more.

He added: "This race is open. I think now I can see two teams, Chelsea and Tottenham, in this race. But anything can happen because there are 24 points (to play for) and other rivals can go in this race."

Chelsea go to Bournemouth on Saturday at the end of week which saw them respond from the surprise loss to Crystal Palace with victory over Manchester City on Wednesday.

Victor Moses missed the last two matches but is in contention following a toe injury.

Chelsea's match at Bournemouth is a 5.30pm kick-off and the Blues will know the result of Tottenham's match with Watford, which begins at 1230BST.

"I don't think it's an advantage," Conte said.

"There's always pressure. If they win, if they lose, if they draw. It's the same.

"It's very important for us to look at ourselves and not the others. Tottenham's result is important, but our results are the most important things."

Claudio Ranieri won the Premier League title with Leicester last season and visited Conte at Chelsea's Cobham training ground on Thursday.

Conte did not go into details about the nature of his discussion with Ranieri, who was sacked by Leicester in February.

He said: "Claudio is a good friend. I was very pleased to see him yesterday in Cobham, to chat.

"It's normal to ask something about last season. It was good to see him. I hope to see him again this season."

Conte revealed Ranieri, sacked by Chelsea in 2004, is "ready" for another job.

Despite their domestic troubles, Leicester have reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League, a competition Chelsea are eager to play in again.

Conte will likely seek to strengthen his squad for Europe, but talks about squad changes are on hold.

He said: "Chelsea must play always Champions League every season. Then with the club we'll talk. We'll talk to try (to find) the best solution for the next season.

"Now it's important to be focused for this season. This season is very difficult.

"We want to finish very good and a good season to become a great season for us."

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph