Matt Hughes, Deputy Football Correspondent
June 20 2017, 12:01am, The Times
Antonio Conte has promised to sign a new contract when he returns to take charge of pre-season training at Chelsea next month. The manager has held talks with Roman Abramovich’s two most senior lieutenants, the director Marina Granovskaia and technical director Michael Emenalo, and reassured them that he wants to extend his contract despite being frustrated at certain aspects of the club’s operations.
Conte has clashed with his employers over his handling of Diego Costa, who was told that he was not wanted by the manager in a text message, and the club’s slow start to potential transfer deals, but these issues are not thought to be serious enough to put his future in doubt. The manager expressed similar reservations about a lack of transfer activity last summer when only four first-team players were signed, but was still able to guide Chelsea to the Premier League title.
Conte believes that his achievement deserves to be rewarded by more signings and has been liaising with Granovskaia and Emenalo from his holiday in southern Italy. During those conversations the 47-year-old has emphasised the need for a larger squad to cope with the demands of the Champions League, and also made it clear that he intends to target the competition that he has yet to win as a manager.
Chelsea have agreed to sign Willy Caballero on a free transfer which will be announced on July 1, while they are hopeful of reaching an agreement with AS Monaco to sign Tiemoué Bakayoko, the France midfield player, before the players return on July 5.
Chelsea are willing to grant Conte’s request to appoint a coach to replace Steve Holland, the England assistant manager, having previously insisted that they would not do so, but will not alter the club’s operational structure.
The manager is expected to report to Granovskaia and Emenalo rather than to Abramovich. The position of Neil Bath, the academy director, is also not under threat despite claims that Conte wants greater control over the club’s youth development programme.
Conte’s existing contract expires in 2019 and he is expected to sign a two-year extension with a 50 per cent pay rise that will take his salary to £9 million. Conte has instructed his advisers to look at property in Chelsea and close to the club’s training ground at Cobham in Surrey, as he wants his wife and daughter to join him next season.