In an entirely unsurprising turn of events, Antonio Conte has played down any talk of rift or drama with the Chelsea front-office when repeatedly being quizzed about this topic (again and forever) in his pre-match press conference.
“As you know the club will inform you if there is news about the transfer market but as I said before, I think I’m repeating myself every three days, I will be very happy to continue to work with my players and I’d be very happy if there were some new players. My opinion doesn’t change after three days.”
“I think that it’s right to have this type of [setup, with the club in charge of transfers], I’m always repeating the same thing, that I am the coach and my task is to try to do the best for this club and to improve my players.”
“As I said before, for the transfer market there is the club to speak to about this and if there is news they will inform you about it.”
“Yes [everything is okay with the board regarding transfer policy]. I think this is normal [if we have talks/disagreements?] but it’s something I don’t want to discuss you.”
Whether he did so as a result of holding talks with the Chelsea head honchos (and thus either re-aligned with them or at least falling back in line), or did so of his own accord because he didn’t really say anything too different after the Arsenal match than what he’s been saying all season but the press blew it out of proportion anyway, is up for interpretation, but probably doesn’t matter too much at this point.
Conte has re-committed himself to the club as well and re-declared his happiness. He’s never said anything different in public of course. He does have a reputation for being a straight shooter, but he obviously has many canned and formulaic answers that he likes to give in specific situations, which have increasingly led people to try to read between the lines, go based on his moods and mannerism, or whatever else. That’s not to say that Conte’s fake news, but he understandably isn’t really willing to discuss the nuances of a given situation with a sensationalist media.
“Nothing has changed [regarding my future], there was the summer, then after that summer nothing has changed.”
“I’m happy to work with my players, I’m happy to work for this club, I’m happy to try every day to put all of myself in to this job. I’m happy for this.”
-Antonio Conte; source: /r/chelseafc
Conte will have one more year left on the two-year contract he signed last summer, but the story being pushed by much of the media is that he’s a goner at the end of the season. Conte has disputed this in public every time, and some sources behind the scenes apparently agree as well. It all comes down to who and what you believe. Choose your own adventure!
All this drama aside (and all the transfer shenanigans aside), what actually does matter for the next several months is Chelsea finishing top four, advancing in the FA Cup, and maybe even the Champions League. As ever in football, we’ll see what happens after that, but we’ll have plenty of time to worry about that drama later.