Where would Conte fit best next season?

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Everything is breaking his way. His successor at his former club gets routinely mocked at home matches making his previous tenure look better in retrospect and there are potentially many openings at the top clubs in his home country. In many ways it’s hard to imagine Antonio Conte’s sabbatical season going any better when it comes to how he’s perceived and where he could go next.

Conte certainly has the qualities that many of the top teams with an expected coaching vacancy are looking for- he has a long track record of getting clubs back on track dating back to his time before he became Juventus’ manager and he knows both Serie A and the Italian media very well. 

But where does it make more sense for him to go next should he decide to return to Italy? Let’s look at the potential fits and likelihood the job will be available in the first place

 

Juventus

 

The last two managers to win the Champions League with the bianconeri, Giovanni Trapattoni and Marcello Lippi, both eventually returned to the club despite leaving Turin to go coach bitter rivals Inter. While Conte at least went to the national team and then abroad, it doesn’t feel like this is the right time for him to go back to Juventus. 

For one Max Allegri keeps saying he wants to be the Bianconeri’s version of Sir Alex Ferguson, and secondly the club seems more interested in keeping him after the impressive second leg against Atletico Madrid (but an elimination against underdog Ajax may change that). But even if Allegri leaves, it doesn’t feel like there’s much of an appetite for another defensive manager, especially one who unlike the current manager has yet to fully excel in the Champions League- the trophy the club is mainly focused on.

Likelihood job is available: 25 percent

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Inter

 

While having Beppe Marotta as the CEO isn’t necessarily a distinct advantage for the nerazzurri considering the rocky relationship between the two at Juventus, this is Conte’s likeliest destination. With Suning’s financial stability and the Financial Fair Play restrictions about to end, Conte would be able to count on the support in the transfer market he consistently craves.

Inter have already signed Diego Godin on a Bosman which would give Conte a new version of the BBC assuming Milan Skriniar stays alongside De Vrij- an outcome that seems rather likely. Should he follow in Trapattoni and Lippi’s footsteps, Conte wouldn’t have to go through a significant rebuild like at Roma and Milan or face huge expectations like winning the Champions League at Juventus. 

While Spalletti has a good chance of qualifying for the Champions League for a second season in a row and has a long term contract, he has openly clashed with Marotta over Icardi and Perisic and his hand picked addition Nainggolan has so far been a significant bust. Spalletti looks to have overstayed his welcome.

 

Likelihood job is available: 60 percent

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Milan

 

Before the derby against Inter, Gattuso looked to have earned the opportunity to start next season as Milan’s manager- but a recent streak of disappointing results, coupled with an uninspired offensive system have changed that perspective.

By joining the Rossoneri, Conte wouldn’t be able to expect significant additions via the transfer market because of Financial Fair Play and his style of play isn’t exactly in line with the club’s DNA. On the plus side, Conte is the master of taking clubs from A to B and he would have the opportunity to build the team in his image.

 

Likelihood job is available: 50 percent

Roma

 

The giallorossi are the likeliest to have a job opening as even if Claudio Ranieri were to able to get the team to the Champions League, there’s a chance he would step aside to give a chance to a younger manager to help his beloved Roma.

At Roma, regardless if they make the Champions League or not, Conte would face an even bigger rebuild than at Milan. As someone who has openly complained about the transfer moves of his employers, you don’t need much of an imagination to picture how he would react to the departure of players like Manolas. In addition Conte has become one of the highest paid managers at his recent jobs and it’s hard to envision Roma being able to pay him in line with his previous earnings.

Likelihood job is available: 85 percent

Florentino Perez listens to players and appoints Santiago Solari as Real Madrid coach

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Santiago Solari was named as the new Real Madrid manager this week, and the news will be a relief for the players.Solari has signed a 3 year contract with his former club and has also fought off stiff competition to land the job. Both Antonio Conte and Roberto Martinez were in the running to take over from the sacked Julen Lopetegui but Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has given the chance to Solari. So what gives and why did Perez not go for more experience?

The truth is that the players especially Sergio Ramos had voiced their disagreement in landing Conte as manager. His quote earlier this month that you have to earn respect to achieve it in regards of Conte being drafted in didn’t sit too well. Ramos and other influential players didn’t like the thought of Conte taking over the hot seat, and yes player power is evident once again. But whilst in the past Perez would have brushed off such antics, he listened and talks broke down.

There was also talk of bringing in former Everton manager Roberto Martinez, who would not have got a look in if still at the Premier League side. But his reputation has mostly been built on this summers World Cup, where his Belgian side reached the semi finals before losing narrowly against France who would eventually go on to win the trophy. There was a feeling that the players were more happier to receive Martinez than Perez was. However with Conte out of the picture, both Perez and the players broke even and Martinez was also ruled out. This left Solari who had been moved up from youth coach as a temporary figure head until the club could find someone.

However sometimes the answer or in Madrid’s case remedy is staring you in the face and Solari an ex player who has the respect of the current squad was given the job full time. With new managerial talks hitting a dead end, Perez also had the laws of the Spanish FA bearing down on him, given that clubs cannot have a caretaker manager for more than two weeks. In one way Solari has the job through default but in another perhaps he has earned it.

Since taking over from the ill fated Lopetegui, Solari has presided over 4 games and the club have won all 4. In his youth management Solari only managed a win rate of 37%, but he has got off to the best possible start with Madrid. The one important factor is that the players are their happiest they have been all season, that as Solari knows only to well can go a long way.

Real Madrid are still recovering from the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo, and this season was always going to be a transitiona one. But perhaps Solari can add the reignited spark that Los Blanco’s so ever need.

Should Real Madrid focus on the short or long term after Julen Lopetegui?

139 days. 14 games. That’s all Julen Lopetegui lasted as manager of Real Madrid following his dismissal on Monday. His reign seemed doomed from the very moment it started, such was the controversy around his arrival at the Santiago Bernabeu. Few believed he would last long in the Spanish capital and so it proved.

Now, Real Madrid are charged with finding a replacement. Antonio Conte had been considered the frontrunner, but now it seems that the Italian has ruled himself out of the running for the vacancy. Jose Mourinho is another who has been mentioned, but the Portuguese is tied to a lucrative contract at Manchester United.

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There is a real lack of potential candidates, hence why B team coach Santiago Solari has been promoted to the position for the time being. Once the most desirable job in management, now Real Madrid is seen to be such a poisoned chalice it is scaring coaches away.

Conte would be a short-term fix, but an effective one given his track record at getting the best out of ageing stars and big egos. He entered a similar situation at Chelsea, tasked with cleaning up after Mourinho, and he did that by winning the title in his first season in the Premier League.

Others, like Mauricio Pochettino, would be an appointment with the long-term in mind. Real Madrid are now faced with this existential question – do they prioritise the short-term over the long-term? Would someone like Pochettino be given the time to get across his ideas and methods as a coach?

This is a Real Madrid side coming to the end of a glorious generation, with players like Karim Benzema, Luka Modric and even Sergio Ramos entering the twilight of their careers. And so if they are to stay at the top of the European and Spanish game, a transition must be managed.

Lopetegui failed to do this, as demonstrated by the performance of his big names in the 5-1 thumping at the hands of Barcelona on Sunday. The next guy in the job, whoever that may be, must handle it better, somehow striking a balance between eking more out of players like Benzema, Modric and Ramos while planning for the future.

Of course, no single managerial appointment will be enough to address the problems that exist at the Santiago Bernabeu right now. Real Madrid are struggling to fill the void left by Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane, with the European champions lacking an identity as a team right now. Lopetegui wanted his side to be a possession-based outfit, but abandoned that idea after just a few weeks.

Real Madrid are a club who now find themselves stuck between the short-term and the long-term, between the old and the young, and now between managers. As long as they’re in that position, they’re standing still.

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Real Madrid edge closer to Conte appointment

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Real Madrid are set to announce Antonio Conte as their new boss in the coming days, in the wake of their 5-1 La Liga thrashing away at Barcelona last weekend.

That defeat at the Camp Nou is likely to be the death knell for Julen Lopetegui as manager of the 2017-18 Champions League winners, with his departure in the offing.

Club President Florentino Perez, famous for his ruthlessness and lack of patience with managers, is set to confirm Lopetegui’s departure before the end of the week.

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Abramovich must make decision on Chelsea future quickly

abramovich2When Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich purchased Chelsea in 2003 it was believed to be a hobby for him. Fast forward 15 years and after securing a few Premier League titles and cup triumphs the 51-year-old is believed to be considering selling the club and moving on to pastures new. Whether this would be the right approach for him on a personal (or a business) level is something only he can decide, but Blues fans will likely be hoping that he opts to remain in charge at Stamford Bridge. He has transformed the shape and future of Chelsea Football Club during his ownership, bringing in several world-class players and delivering a standard of football which had long since been desired among the terraces.

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Eden Hazard hints he could leave Chelsea this summer

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Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard has hinted that the time may be right to leave west London and seek a new challenge. The 27-year-old has enjoyed a wonderful World Cup in Russia with his native Belgium, helping them achieve their best-ever finish of third after beating England 2-0 in St Petersburg on Saturday. With a little bit of time off now before joining up with the Chelsea squad for their pre-season, Hazard has left the door open on where he may be playing his football this coming campaign. There has of course been some upheaval at Stamford Bridge during the tournament, with Antonio Conte having been sacked and replaced with fellow Italian Maurizio Sarri – and that uncertainty seems to have opened the door on a prospective move.

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Does Chelsea’s current personnel fit Sarri’s sytem?

JorginhoThe latest news report out of Italy are stating that Maurizio Sarri will indeed finally takeover the Chelsea bench. The rumors have been circulating for a while, so until Sarri actually puts pen to the paper, nothing is definite. We can, however, begin to look at the current Chelsea squad to decipher which players would fit Sarri’s system.

The news is reporting that not only will Sarri join Chelsea, but so will Jorginho. In a separate article for eurofantasyleague.com, we looked at why Jorginho would be a key signing for Chelsea if they were going forward with Sarri.  Continue reading

Chelsea’s delayed signing is setting Maurizio Sarri up for failure

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Maurizio Sarri to Chelsea has been spoken about so much that it seems like a done deal. Only, it isn’t.

As of now, the facts remain the same: Antonio Conte is the manager of Chelsea and Maurizio Sarri is still employed by Napoli. This remains a problem for all four parties involved. Why? Well Conte is the manager of a club who doesn’t want him. Sarri is employed by a club who has no use for him. Chelsea can’t get their transfer campaign started until this is resolved, and Napoli are paying two coaches to do one job.

At the end of the day, the bigger problem lies with Chelsea and Maurizio Sarri; however, as Conte has a huge buyout clause in his contract and will be paid very well to walk away. Napoli also have their coach in place and have begun signing new players, therefore, they are not affected by Sarri still being on the books.  Continue reading

Chelsea must start signing players soon

It was around this time last year, with the ticker-tape on Chelsea’s Premier League title triumph only just settled, that suggestions surfaced that Antonio Conte wasn’t happy at the club. It’s a situation that was drawn out over the course of the 2017/18 season and now, finally, the Italian is expected to leave Stamford Bridge this summer.

And yet, nothing has been announced. Conte remains the Chelsea manager. There have been reports that Maurizio Sarri, who left Napoli earlier in the month, has held talks with the Blues about taking over, but for the time being Conte is still the man in charge. Chelsea seemingly can’t find a way to get rid of him.

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The season has only just finished, but this situation is already hindering Chelsea’s preparations for the 2018/19 campaign. Many of their rivals are already making moves in the transfer market, with Liverpool completing a deal for Fabinho on Monday and Manchester United expected to sign Fred in the coming days, while the Blues are still working out a way to make a change in the dugout.

This summer must be a transitional one for the Stamford Bridge side. Chelsea have just endured an atrocious season, falling out of the top four and putting up a feeble defence of their Premier League crown. Their squad isn’t good enough and fundamental changes must be made before the start of the new campaign.

And so Chelsea must start signing players whether or not they have a new manager. The Blues operated with a technical director for the best part of a decade, so they have previously signed players without the green light from a manager. They must do it again because time is already starting to get away from them.

The World Cup makes it harder for all clubs to sanction transfers, with players involved with the tournament unlikely to leave their national teams to seal a move to a club. But this season more than any other before, it’s crucial for Premier League sides to get their business done early with the summer window set to close on August 9 for the first time, just over three weeks after the World Cup final.

There are a number of different issues for Chelsea to resolve before the window shuts. Eden Hazard has yet to sign a new contract, with speculation linking him with a move to either Manchester City or Real Madrid. Thibaut Courtois is another who has yet to put pen to paper on a new deal and he too could be on his way out of the club.

Then there’s Alvaro Morata, the £60 million striker who failed to make much of an impression in his first season at Chelsea. There are reports that he could return to Italy this summer. This is before we even get to the reinforcements that are needed at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea can’t wait around any longer for a new manager. They must start making moves now.

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Why Emerson Palmieri should work out to be a shrewd signing for Chelsea

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Chelsea’s January transfer window signing of Emerson Palmieri saw them not only secure a player to strengthen their squad and give Marcos Alonso vital cover, it also meant they secured a player with immense potential to improve. Continue reading