Spurs boss Conte wants ‘one or two marquee signings’ as respected journalist reveals the Italian’s ‘fear’
CBS Sports journalist Ben Jacobs insists “the next few weeks” will decide whether Spurs are sticking with Antonio Conte or “looking for a new manager”.
There have been rumours for months over whether Conte will continue at the end of the current season or carry on helping Tottenham move forward.
Conte took over from Nuno Espirito Santo towards the end of 2021 and guided Spurs to a top-four finish in his first season.
Results have been mixed this term but Tottenham once again sit inside the Premier League’s top four after they leapfrogged Newcastle into fourth with a 2-0 victory over West Ham at the weekend.
But Conte’s future remains up in the air with his contract up at the end of June with speculation that Mauricio Pochettino – who is still out of work after leaving Paris Saint-Germain – could return to Spurs.
And Jacobs reckons there a number of demands Conte will want fulfilled before he commits to take Tottenham into next season.
Jacobs told TEAMtalk: “Antonio Conte is looking at the Tottenham project based not only on whether they have Champions League football, and can get it consistently, but also the strategy behind the club. And its recruitment model, and its level of funding.
“What he will want is a clear investment into the team to bring in one or two marquee signings. The frustration, I think, from Antonio Conte, or the fear, at least, is that perhaps Tottenham moved one step forwards last season. And now he’s waiting a little bit to see whether or not it’s another step forwards or two steps back.
“And because his contract expires in June, it will now I think, depend on the next few weeks for all parties to understand whether or not there’s any possibility of extension. Or whether Tottenham are ultimately looking for a new manager.”
Pochettino and Brighton boss Roberto de Zerbi are among the names linked as replacements for Conte in case he leaves and Jacobs weighs up the options.
Jacobs added: “I think that from Daniel Levy’s perspective, he is looking at the market to see who’s out there. That’s just part of normal due diligence and planning when your manager’s contract is dwindling down.
“And that’s why we’re seeing names like Mauricio Pochettino and also the relatively new Brighton manager, Roberto De Zerbi as well.
“With Pochettino, he’s biding his time. He’s not really a manager that’s like to move mid-season, unless an outstanding challenge presents itself. And that’s why I think after departing PSG he’s in absolutely no hurry.
“And from Pochettino’s point of view, I don’t think that he’s fixed only on one job. We know that he was intrigued and would have put his name in the hat for the England job if Gareth Southgate hadn’t extended. And it’s also true that both Daniel Levy and Pochettino would be open to a Spurs move again.
“So the return isn’t putting off anybody. In fact, Levy and Pochettino have got an excellent relationship. Both on a professional and personal level, they are still in touch.
“From Levy’s point of view, and the wider club hierarchy, there will be no problems bringing Pochettino back. And I think that should the Spurs job become available, Poch would be very interested, but he won’t be the only candidate.”
Jacobs continued: “There will be other names should a vacancy arise. And I do think whether it is this summer, or whether it’s in the future, De Zerbi he is going to be in demand because he’s managed to come straight in and build on everything that Graham Potter created at Brighton.
“But he hasn’t been there that long, which obviously will make it a little bit harder to prize him away from Brighton in the short term. It’s not impossible, a lot of people thought that Chelsea wouldn’t be able to get Potter so quickly. And Brighton cooperated.
“That’s because when somebody wants to leave, if it is in their interests financially, and if they can line up somebody, they are a club that are very easy to deal with.
“So I think that Pochettino will be there. But first and foremost, Tottenham need to establish with Antonio Conte exactly what the plan is. And even though there were some reports a few weeks ago, and even months back, that he was definitely leaving, the situation is still a little bit uncertain.
“So even if it appears to be heading in that direction, Tottenham are quite calm about the situation. And if they have a good end to the season, and go on a Champions League run, turn the tie around against Milan, and qualify for the top four a lot may change in terms of Conte’s thinking. And also that funding that could be available to him.
“But if the eventuality comes where Conte leaves, and obviously that contract is ticking down, then Pochettino is one to watch.”
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