Antonio Conte talked somewhat at length in Friday's press conference about Oscar's situation at Chelsea, though in the public portion of it, he managed to say a lot of something without really saying anything. In the off-cameras portion of the press conference however, he opened up a fair bit more. Beyond just his use of the past tense (which, we should remember, could be down to his non-fluent English skill), Conte certainly makes it sound like Oscar's indeed "90 per cent" out the door.
"Oscar is a really good player. A good player. For me, I was very proud to have him in my squad and have him as my player."
"I'm proud of his attitude, his commitment and his behaviour, which have been fantastic. I have great respect for every decision made by a single player. If you ask me, 'are you sorry?', then yes, I am sorry."
"I am sorry because he's leaving as a really good player and a really good man. I must be honest about this. But I also understand him and his decision."
Conte is sorry that Oscar's leaving. Doesn't get much clearer than that. That doesn't mean that Conte's upset — he continually insists in public that he wants all his players (even Mikel or Terry!) — it just means he's sorry to see Oscar, who's still just 25 and very talented, go away from the team.
But go away he will, barring any equally sensational developments in the next few weeks. The moneys on offer, to both club and player, are simply too outrageous, too sensational, too incredible to turn down.
"I think, in this situation, I'd prefer always to take the decision with the club. Together. To take the best decision. Sometimes you can say 'no', but other times you have to say 'yes'."
"But, for sure, this market is an incredible market. It's a great opportunity for all: for the coaches, also, not only for the players. They are offering a lot of money. For sure, you can think also for one second, or 10 seconds, but it's very difficult not to think about it. Above all if the offer is amazing, is incredible. For this reason, I think I can understand if some players say yes to this."
-Antonio Conte; source: Goal
It's a bit unfair, I think, of Conte to paint this purely as a passion vs. money thing. After all, Oscar isn't exactly swimming in minutes right now (for either club or country), while after four years at Chelsea, he should have plenty of money stashed aside for rainy days. But £20m per year is £20m per year and those are the sort of figures that are not easily refused.
"Sometimes it's very difficult to face this situation. But I think, also, that we are in the best league. Now, to arrive in the Premier League is a great opportunity for players and for coaches, to fight for the title against fantastic players and coaches."
"England is the best in the world if you have ambition to test yourself against the other teams with this reality. Before the money must be the passion, the passion for the sport, for football."
"We started to play when we were children without money, and only for the passion. Then, also, came money but the passion is more important than money, for me."
Meanwhile, the Times have thrown a new name into the ring of possible replacements for Oscar in Monaco midfielder Tiemoué Bakayoko. The 22-year-old French youth international has risen to prominence at the Ligue 1 title contenders from the Principality this season and apparently would command a significant amount of millions, possibly even 40 of them.