Question marks over Conte lead to worries behind the scenes and on the terraces

Will Antonio Conte still be at Stamford Bridge next season? It’s the question that has been weighing heavy on everyone’s mind – if only i...

Will Antonio Conte still be at Stamford Bridge next season? It’s the question that has been weighing heavy on everyone’s mind – if only it was as easy to provide a definitive answer. The question of Conte’s future is not the only worry for The Blues, with rival teams circling on a number of key players, including Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois, who both seem increasingly likely to be heading for Spain. But it is Conte who would be the biggest headache to replace.

Betting on the next to go? 

Predicting who will be the next Premier League manager to either depart or be unceremoniously axed is one of the most popular pastimes among sports betting fans. But while Alan Pardew is overwhelming favourite after West Brom’s catalogue of disasters, most bookmakers have Conte as second in line. Should we be placing a pound or two on Conte to disappear to Paris St Germain at the end of the season? At this stage, it’s a little like playing Sun Bingo, as there are so many questions that remain unanswered, but let’s try to pick out the facts from the rumours.

The contractual background 

Conte’s current £9.6 million per year contract still has a further year to run, so it should see him remain with the club till the end of the 2018/19 season. However, for coaches as for players, there is always a way out, and if enough people want someone to go, they will go.

PSG have made it clear that they like Conte’s style, and they see him as a natural replacement for Unai Emery. The fact is that Emery is almost certain to be out of the door at the end of the season, despite Arsene Wenger, of all people, offering his advice that the Paris team should stand by their man.

Even if the PSG offer does not come about, Conte has made no secret of the fact that he misses his homeland and would relish the opportunity to return to Italy. There are no shortage of possibilities there, and either the national team or one of the top clubs would be certain to offer him a lucrative deal.

Who next for Chelsea? 

Of course, if Conte does leave, the follow up question is an even more important one. Who would replace him? The truth is, this one is no easier to answer. Coaches with Conte’s track record are not queuing up at the gates of Stamford Bridge, and it is very much a case of assessing what is available.

At present there are only three real candidates:

  • Thomas Tuchel – the former Dortmund coach has been closely linked with Arsenal in the event that Wenger departs, but has himself dropped hints about a Chelsea link. 

  • Carlo Ancelotti is a name we all know well. But to re-sign him after his 2011 departure would seem like a backward step. 

  • Marco Silva was sacked by Watford and is looking for a new start. Could he find new success at Chelsea? 

Do any of them set your pulse racing or are you just keeping your fingers crossed that Conte will remain for one more year?

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