Antonio Conte has explained why he rebuffed overtures from Tottenham for the vacant managerial position in north London.
Fresh from leaving Inter Milan after ending the club’s decade-long wait for Serie A title glory, Spurs were heavily linked with the Italian’s name earlier this month.
Following the unceremonious departure of Jose Mourinho in April, chairman Daniel Levy has been eager to find a permanent successor in the close season after 29-year-old Ryan Mason oversaw the end of the campaign on a temporary basis.
PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino was touted with a possible return, but rumours of a move for Conte soon outmuscled those links to the former Spurs boss, and the Italian was reportedly a frontrunner for the position earlier this month.
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However, interest quelled last week and Conte has since lifted the lid on his discussions with the Tottenham hierarchy, hinting that something was amiss with the project pitched to him.
Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport, Conte said: “Generally, I like challenges and I’ve accepted many of them during my career.
Who is now in frame for the Tottenham job?
With Conte now out of the running and noise discernibly subdued from Paris, former Roma manager Paulo Fonseca has emerged as the top candidate to take the reins in north London.
Should a deal transpire then it would be the the old switcheroo from Roma and Tottenham, with Mourinho replacing Fonseca in Italy and Fonseca replacing Mourinho in England.
Having initially garnered a reputation as a progressive tactician at Shakhtar Donetsk, during which time he masterminded a Ukrainian Premier League three-peat and reached the 2017/18 Champions League round-of-16, Roma identified the Portuguese coach as someone capable of carrying forward the club’s ideals.
After a somewhat succesful maiden campaign, in which Roma finished fifth in Serie A, their form dipped in 2020/21, culminating in a seventh-placed finish, and entrance to the inaugural Europa Conference League, where they could meet Tottenham.
As such, the Giallorossi decided to twist rather than stick, relieving Fonseca of his managerial duties and jumping at the opportunity to appoint Mourinho, who returns to Italian football 11 years after guiding Inter Milan to a historic treble.