Antonio Conte’s stock has risen dramatically in the past nine months, in which he has guided Chelsea to the Premier League title and are on the verge of FA Cup glory.
With the league wrapped up on Friday evening, following a late 1-0 win at West Brom, the Italian can now turn his attentions to his cup showdown at Wembley against Arsenal.
There may still be two league games remaining for the Blues, but so great has Conte’s impact been, that the title has been sown up before the final game of the season.
In nine months, the 47-year-old has ended the disharmony amongst a squad that fell drastically short of expectations last campaign and made a few key additional signings that have aided Chelsea’s ascent to the top of the Premier League.
Some Blues fans would consider it a miracle how the former Juventus and Italy boss has eradicated the flaws within the squad and helped the club’s key players, like Diego Costa and Eden Hazard, re-find their best form.
But even for Chelsea, with their great success this season, comes a negative – with Inter Milan looking to make a sensational swoop for the man who has already won Serie A three times as a manager.
The club’s owner, Zhang Jindong, is ready to offer Conte £12.5 million to quit Stamford Bridge for the San Siro, according to The Telegraph, but Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich will quash the financial lure of the Serie A outfit by making the Italian the best-paid Blues boss of all time.
That would exceed the £7.5 million Jose Mourinho earned during his time at the helm in west London, with Conte currently on £6.5 million a year, while the Italian would leapfrog the likes of Arsene Wenger and Jurgen Klopp as one of the Premier League’s top-paid bosses.
And to satisfy Conte further, Abramovich is ready to hand him £200 million in transfer funds this summer in order to bolster a squad that is set for a Champions League return next season, while the club also remain confident of tying Hazard down to a new £300,000-a-week deal.
Chelsea’s sought after manager is looking to add further depth and versatility to his squad this summer, and the positive talks held with their Belgian star man earlier last week are also positive for the former Juve boss.
Having almost ran away with the Premier League title earlier in the campaign, Chelsea have made it clear to Hazard that he can achieve all of his ambitions at Stamford Bridge – despite interest from Real Madrid.
Conte now wants to add further quality to his squad by reclaiming Romelu Lukaku from Everton, after he left Chelsea for the Toffees in 2014 – which could signal Costa’s potential big-money exit to Chinese Super League outfit Tianjin Quanjian – while Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk and midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko are further Chelsea targets.