Antonio Conte has furiously rejected reports in Italy that he is trying to engineer a move from Inter Milan to Juventus and dislodge Maurizio Sarri from his job.
Conte’s Inter side finished only a point behind champions Juventus in Serie A this season but after beating Atalanta at the weekend, he sounded frustrated by the Inter hierarchy’s ‘soft’ management and also suggested concerns regarding the club’s future activity in the transfer market.
But now in another twist, Conte has made peace with the Inter board after a telephone call with president Steven Zhang and has hit out at a suggestions in the Italian press that he had contacted his former club Juventus to see if they were planning to sack Maurizio Sarri.
‘Regarding the article published today on Repubblica, I categorically deny the fact that I spoke with Juventus directors and players asking ‘are you going to sack Sarri?’ Conte was quoted as saying by the Italian news agency ANSA.
‘I will sue those who wrote this article and the editor in charge of the magazine.’
Conte won Serie A five times as a player with Juventus and another three as manager before he took charge of the Italy team and then Chelsea. He has been at Inter since 2019.
But despite his links to the Old Lady, he moved to reaffirm his commitment to the Inter cause and distanced himself from suggestions he could be set for an untimely departure.
He told ANSA: ‘I took on a three-year project with Inter and as I have always done in my life I will work hard and will fight with all my strength and with all that is in my possibilities to make it a winning project.’
But speaking after Inter’s 2-0 win over Atalanta on Sunday, Conte cut a different tone.
He told Sky Italia: ‘It has been a tough year on a personal level, very tough. I don’t think the players saw their work recognised, I don’t think I saw my work recognised and we all received very little protection from the club.
‘We have to grow and improve in all areas, including off the field, and a big club should protect its players more. We’ll discuss it all at the end of the season, I have to meet the president (Steven Zhang) and he’s in China right now.’
While the domestic Italian season has come to an end, Inter’s battle for silverware is ongoing as they meet Getafe in the Europa League round of 16 on Wednesday night.
Inter’s second-place finish in Serie A means that they have booked Champions League football for next season.
And Conte could soon be appeased in the transfer window, too. Reports in Italy claim a deal to sign Alexis Sanchez on permanent terms following his loan from Manchester United could be confirmed as early as Wednesday – after they have played Getafe.