After much kvetching by Tottenham Hotspur’s fanbase, Antonio Conte announced today that he has finally had the infamous meeting with the Spurs brass over how to chart the future of his squad. Conte announced, in comments given to the press, that he had met with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, Managing Director of Football Fabio Paratici, and chief scout Steve Hitchen in what was described as a “candid” meeting.
“It was a good meeting also because when you have the possibility to speak to the owner and the sporting director - with Paratici I have the possibility to speak every day - but to have the possibility to speak with our owner it was important. Also because I like to have this type of relationship, to be honest and to always tell the truth. You know I don’t like to tell a good lie to keep a good relationship or to show me very soft or to be too polite.
“It was good to tell the truth and it was a good meeting. Now for me it’s ok, I asked the club time to take my evaluation. The club asked after one month to have a meeting and I said no, I prefer to have another month to make the right evaluation. It’s honest, to give more time to me and also the players, to show me who deserves to stay here.
“Now the situation is very clear and I had this meeting, I was satisfied to have this conversation with the owner and now it’s ok for me. Now I have only one way. It’s on the pitch and the training sessions every day. My only way to improve the situation is to improve the level of my players and this way the level of the team is going to rise. Then, the club know the situation and if they want to help me another way I appreciate it. Otherwise, I continue to work the way I am working.
“I think that it’s not only for me but for every coach. If you stay outside you can have a vision. You have to stay inside. When you’re into the club you have the opportunity to understand very well the situation because you have the possibility to work with the players everyday, to see the structure, to see everything about the club.
“Outside it’s difficult. You can have one vision and only when you stay inside, you go into the club and then you can have the right evaluation about the environment, about the squad, about the players and I think this is normal not only for me but for every coach.”
Conte did not give many details on which players are in his plans and which are not, but based on past comments, his starting XIs and substitution patterns, and credible transfer rumors, we can certainly make some inferences. Some are pretty low-hanging fruit — it’s been widely reported that Conte wants a left-footed CB, a central midfielder, and an attacker this month, and to nobody’s surprise Tanguy Ndombele, Matt Doherty, and Dele appear to be considered surplus to requirements; there are likely others. One thing we know about Conte is that he speaks his mind, and I have no doubt that his opinions were made crystal clear to Levy, Paratici, and Hitchen.
Spurs’ boss also dished out some good news, assuming you’re one of the fans that would like to keep Hugo Lloris around. Conte confirmed that talks have begun over extending Lloris’ Tottenham contract, which is set to expire in June. Conte has made clear that he admires Hugo and wants to keep him around, but that while the situation is not in his control, he feels confident that a deal will be done.
“I think so, I think that [Lloris and the club] have started to talk. You know very well what I think about Hugo. Also previously I spoke and said that he’s our captain, he is a top goalkeeper for us, he has great experience. He knows very well Tottenham.
“He loves this shirt and this badge. For me he is an important player and I’m sure that they are going to find a solution for him to continue to play with Tottenham.
“I think and I repeat because I am not the person that speaks to renew the contract with the players. There is the club and the people that do this, but for sure I am very confident about this situation to be positive.”