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Paris Saint-Germain exploring Antonio Conte option — report

FC Barcelona v Chelsea FC - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: Second Leg Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Chelsea’s 2017-18 season is far from over, with a Premier League top four finish and a FA Cup semifinals still on the horizon and providing plenty to fight for until the term’s end. Still, the next set of games could be decisive not only in the Blues’ short-term future but also for the next years ahead.

One of the questions that will be key in its repercussions is the direction the club will take with regards to manager Antonio Conte. Some feel he is on his last days on the club, even if Chelsea manage to smash and grab a Champions League spot in the Premier League and bring Conte his first cup title in a 12-year managerial career. But others are not as pessimistic and hope the club stick by him, giving the financial backing he has longed for so he can direct the club back to its previous standings in England and abroad.

For all we know, this question remains open. And if all falls apart, there might be a fallback plan for Conte already in the cards.

According to Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano on (the Guardian’s sister newspaper) the Observer, French club Paris Saint-Germain have held talks with Conte’s representatives to discuss a potential move that would take place next summer to Parc des Princes.

Conte is not alone in their shortlist, with PSG interested in Manchester United’s José Mourinho, Atlético Madrid’s Diego Simeone, Juventus’ Massimiliano Allegri and Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino. But out of the five names, the Italian was the first to be approached given his reportedly fractured relationship with Chelsea’s board.

PSG’s current coach Unai Emery, despite having his team 17 points (with one extra game) ahead of 2nd-place AS Monaco in Ligue 1’s table, is set to leave the club after back-to-back shambolic failures in the Champions League at the hands of Barcelona and Real Madrid over the last two seasons.

Real Madrid v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

The team went as far as bringing their nemesis in the Barcelona tie in Brazilian superstar Neymar on a record-breaking €222 million transfer last year, but it was still not enough to overcome the strength of a superior and more experienced Real Madrid in the first game of the CL’s round of 16 leg this season. And with Neymar unavailable for the second leg due to injury, the French club went on to lose on a aggregated 5-2 score with a 2-1 home loss.

Hopes on bringing Conte to PSG lie on a “small” raise to his current wages — from £9.5 million to £10 million per year — as well as giving the manager the financial backing to build his dream squad, something which he has not been able to do neither with Juventus nor Chelsea. He is also seen by the French club as a very competent target due to his major accomplishment with the Blues in winning the Premier League on his first season when expectations for the team were much lower.

Although the report mentions PSG would have competition from the Italian Football Federation, it is unlikely they would be able to mount any sort of proper fight with the Parisians for Conte’s signature. Starting with the coach’s own wishes to stay in club football instead of returning to international duty, even if on a mission to rebuild his home nation’s national team.

Most times we are quick to dismiss rumours coming during times such as this ongoing international break, but it is difficult to do so now given the reliability of those sources. Still, for now it is only an enquiry rather than a full-on chase for Conte’s signature.

And it should not be much of a surprise that PSG are interested in our current coach. Despite his lack of success in cup competitions, he managed to pull some great stuff out of teams considered inferior to their counterparts. One just needs to look at what Chelsea were able to get from their Barcelona tie in the Champions League this season where a combination of individual mistakes and bad luck had rather than poor play had the Londoners losing the draw 4-1.

Of course PSG will not be able to achieve what they want, which is the Champions League title, by just plugging managers in and out. Chelsea were only able to reach these heights nine years after Roman Abramovich started his project to get this achievement, doing so in the unlikeliest of times. But the title came more as a result of the winning environment surrounding the club that had been built throughout these years with many runs ending in the very last stages of the competition, instead of just the quality of the players we had in hand.

Nevertheless, there is not much to mull over here as a Chelsea fan. We have been in this situation of losing managers many times in the past, and we have always pulled it through despite all the naysayers hoping otherwise.

We still hope Conte sticks by but in case he doesn’t, we will not fret. The club will stay strong, and so will the fans.

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