Tottenham have abandoned their pursuit of Antonio Conte, after days of speculation linking the Italian with the vacant head coach position.
The 51-year-old is a free agent after leaving Serie A giants Inter, whom he recently led to a first Scudetto in a decade to end the stranglehold of Juventus over Italian football.
But not long after celebrating that title success, Conte left San Siro – with Inter in desperate financial trouble and unable to meet his demands for the summer transfer window.
Mauricio Pochettino, currently manager of PSG, had been the surprise favourite to return to Tottenham at the beginning of the week, but Conte suddenly became frontrunner for the post after it became apparent that the Argentine – despite his apparent willingness to return – may be difficult to dislodge from the French capital.
Talks initially appeared to be progressing smoothly with Conte, though it was stipulated from the get-go that certain conditions would need to be met for him to consider accepting the job – primarily keeping the unsettled Harry Kane at the club.
But it then emerged on Friday afternoon that Conte was ‘unconvinced’ at the prospect of taking over, citing the magnitude of the job and how far away Spurs’ current crop of players are from competing for major honours.
Now, in a further development, the Telegraph have confirmed that Spurs’ pursuit of Conte has been called off, amid various concerns from both parties.
Spurs are understood to be concerned over the number of demands Conte was making, as well as his reluctance to offer chances to young players. The former Chelsea manager, meanwhile, had his own doubts about the club’s ambition, as well as the strength of the playing squad.
Though Conte may not be taking over at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, he has confirmed his desire to work abroad once more in an interview with DAZN.
“I would like to have more experiences abroad,” Conte remarked. “I think that I am not someone who is happy with just a comfortable situation. I always chose the most difficult situation instead.
“As a player, I won everything it was possible to win, but I also lost a great deal. When you lose, it leaves within you the desire not to experience that again, so you do everything to transmit that to your players when you are a coach. It all comes from your scars and wanting to avoid getting more.”
Where Tottenham go now in their pursuit of a new head coach is anybody’s guess. They have approached, and been knocked back, by Ajax manager Erik ten Hag, and it seems unlikely that PSG will allow Pochettino to walk away given that he’s only been in the job six months.
Leicester’s Brendan Rodgers has also ruled himself out of contention, instead seeing a brighter future with a steadily improving side at King Power Stadium. Brighton boss Graham Potter has been linked with the role in recent weeks, while there have also been calls for Nuno Espirito Santo – who recently left Wolves – and Rafa Benitez in some quarters.
As for former head coach Jose Mourinho, he’s already moved on to a new project – succeeding Paulo Fonseca at Serie A giants Roma.