Conte thrashes out Blues issues with Abramovich

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte will be aiming to retain the Premier League trophy next season.
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte will be aiming to retain the Premier League trophy next season.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich met Antonio Conte for talks last week in an attempt to secure the manager's long-term future at the club.

They discussed the Italian's new contract, key transfer targets and ideas for restructuring certain elements of the club's operations.

The English Premier League champions are confident that the 47-year-old will sign a new deal when he returns for pre-season training next month.

Conte has kept in touch with the Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia and technical director Michael Emenalo almost daily throughout his holiday in Italy, but direct communication with the owner is less regular.

It is understood that Abramovich contacted Conte to suggest a meeting after the manager became frustrated at the club's slow start to the transfer window.

Former Manchester City goalkeeper Willy Caballero is the only player to agree to join the club so far.

Abramovich is prepared to authorise the spending of more than £200 million (S$355 million) this summer, with Monaco's Tiemoue Bakayoko and Alex Sandro of Juventus, expected to be the first new players to arrive in the next few weeks.

The Russian is also willing to allow Conte to appoint a new coach of his choosing to replace his former assistant, Steve Holland, who is now working full time for the Football Association as assistant to England manager Gareth Southgate.

Abramovich and Conte are also believed to have discussed Diego Costa and are in agreement that the Spanish international striker will leave Stamford Bridge this summer.

Chelsea's preference is to find a buyer for Costa, but they will consider loaning him out for the first half of the season.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2017, with the headline 'Conte thrashes out Blues issues with Abramovich'. Print Edition | Subscribe