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The present for me is Chelsea - Conte blasts Italy speculation

Omnisport
NEWS
437   //    04 Feb 2018, 04:00 IST
Antonio Conte
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte

Antonio Conte has again rejected speculation he could leave Chelsea before the expiry of his contract in 2019, as he believes he is doing "incredible work" at Stamford Bridge.

Alessandro Costacurta's appointment as vice-commissioner of the Italian Football Federation [FIGC] led to fresh reports Conte could be reappointed as Italy's national team coach.

Conte led the Azzurri to the quarter-finals at Euro 2016, beating Spain before losing to Germany on penalties, and the Italian has regularly spoken about the possibility of returning to his homeland.

But ahead of Monday's Premier League trip to Watford, Conte reasserted his desire to see out his three-year Chelsea contract.

"If you remember... I took the decision to come back to club [management] before starting the European Championship with Italy, because I felt the necessity to work every day with the players," Conte told reporters. 

"Now I'm not looking so far forward. Now I'm very focused on the present. The present for me is Chelsea. I'm very happy with this. I took this choice and I want to respect this choice. Also because, I repeat, I'm sure we are doing an incredible work here.

"Every speculation that arrives in England, I don't know where it arrived from. In Italy, I think the speculation today is that Costacurta wants to come here and speak about the national team.

"But, as you know very well, until yesterday Costacurta was a pundit. Not a person who understands the rules.

"Maybe he forgot I have a contract with Chelsea so it's not possible to speak with me or [Zenit Saint Petersburg coach Roberto] Mancini. Maybe with [former Bayern Munich boss] Ancelotti. Maybe.

"One thing I must be very clear: I don't have interest about this speculation or rumours. I don't like to have relationships with journalists. Not because you don't like me, but I'm used to this. You can ask in Italy, also. If I have to give news, it's for all. Not only for one, two or three [journalists]."

Jose Mourinho's two spells at Stamford Bridge are the only times since Claudio Ranieri left Chelsea in 2004 that a manager has lasted more than two years at the club, with the likes of Avram Grant, Luiz Felipe Scolari and Guus Hiddink having short spells in charge.

And Conte believes Chelsea's history of impatience with their managers has contributed to the speculation about his future.

"Don't forget the history of this club," Conte said. "It's always the same. Not only with me. Also with other coaches. I understand this, and it's normal.

"I don't understand why other coaches are not under pressure after a defeat in the way that you are doing with me. But, I repeat, this is not a problem because I don't read it or go online.

"The players are used to this speculation. The speculation has been on this season, and many players answered this question, that 'we don't want to repeat what happened in the past'. But it's normal. The history is this. We can't change the history of the club.

Conte's comments about returning to Italy have contributed to a sense the 48-year-old has not settled in London, but the Italian, who won the Premier League in his first season at Chelsea, denied this is the case.

"Yes, honestly. I like it," Conte said when asked about English football culture. "I think the atmosphere we breathe around football, before the game and during the game in the stadium, it's great. It's fantastic for us.

"I think the atmosphere you find here is impossible to find in another country. The fans live football. They enjoy football, to stay with people and their friends together, to live the experience. I think this is great. In England, they did a great job in this aspect."

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