There continues to be a strong inference among most journalists tracking Tottenham Hotspur news that Antonio Conte is very likely to leave his position as head coach at the end of the season. However, today David Ornstein has provided some new information about both Conte’s future and that of Harry Kane in his weekly column in The Athletic.
Let’s start with Conte. Ornstein writes that it still appears there’s a “good chance” he leaves at the end of his current contract, despite the club having an option to extend it one further year. However, at this point the club has no intention of sacking Conte earlier than that. Ornstein reports that key talks with Conte about his future will take place in early April, and that the club has already started making contingency plans for a Conte-less future, though no one at the club has contacted any potential successors, including Mauricio Pochettino.
It sounds as though the club will know one way or another after the talks conclude in a couple of weeks, and that the club will then begin taking the next steps in the process, whatever that happens to be. It still seems likely that the process will involve the identification and hiring of a new manager or head coach, but the club is desirous of a “smoother process” than the chaotic manager search of 2021 after Jose Mourinho was fired and that resulted in the disastrous appointment of Nuno Espirito Santo.
Then there’s Harry Kane. We’ve suggested for a while that Kane’s future at his boyhood club could be inextricably tied to that of Conte, but it may not actually be the case. Ornstein suggests that the club has absolutely no intention of selling Kane this summer, that new talks have begun over an extended Spurs contract, and that Spurs are more than willing to keep the negotiations going into next season (his last at the club) if necessary.
This would be at some level a form of brinksmanship, as if Kane decides not to sign a new deal and delays past the summer transfer window it would further decrease his transfer value next January and raise the disturbing possibility that he could leave the club in summer 2024 for nothing.
But there’s more lurking in the background of these two club-sourced reports. It gives further credence to earlier reports that chairman Daniel Levy is willing to wait and see whether one-game-per-week Conte can deliver a Champions League finish this spring. There’s also still the chance, however remote, that Conte could decide to commit to Spurs. Meanwhile Kane sticking around would be good for morale, obviously, but would preclude a more dramatic club refresh, and could again hinder Tottenham’s ability to target a new rotational center forward, assuming that’s part of the plan for this summer.
It all feels very status quo, doesn’t it? It’s a safe move, to be sure, and almost feels like the club doubling down on what it’s been doing for the past two years. Is it the right direction? Extremely hard to say at the moment.