Conte hits back at Vialli claims

Daily Mirror - - SPORTS - BY JOHN CROSS Chief Foot­ball Writer

AN­TO­NIO CONTE has dis­missed Gian­luca Vialli’s claims that he “can­not wait to leave Chelsea”.

For­mer Chelsea boss Vialli, now a TV pun­dit for Sky Italia, claimed Conte wants to quit Stam­ford Bridge on the back of their dis­ap­point­ing sea­son. But Conte said he has not spo­ken to Vialli for more than a year and claimed sug­ges­tions he was try­ing to get him­self sacked made him “an­gry and sad”. The spot­light was al­ready on Conte’s fu­ture, with Chelsea look­ing cer­tain to miss out on a top-four place. Ju­ven­tus man­ager Max Al­le­gri is the lat­est name in the frame to re­place him while Monaco’s Leonardo Jardim and ex-Barcelona coach Luis En­rique are also in the run­ning.

But Conte said: “Don’t for­get that Gian­luca Vialli has worked for Sky for many years and he is now a jour­nal­ist. He is a friend but I can tell you I’ve not talked to him for one year.

“Gian­luca and I played to­gether for many years at Ju­ven­tus. He was my cap­tain, we won the Cham­pi­ons League to­gether, and I con­sider him a friend. All of my for­mer team-mates, I con­sider them friends.

“With Gian­luca we went once to din­ner last sea­son and then I stopped (speak­ing to him). The peo­ple who stay very close to me know very well my in­ten­tions – to stay here, to con­tinue my job here. This is the truth. You will see.” Conte’s £9mil­lion-a-year con­tract runs un­til 2019 yet it has al­most be­come ac­cepted that he will leave this sum­mer af­ter Chelsea’s lame de­fence of their ti­tle.

One es­cape route looks to be closed off with for­mer Borus­sia Dort­mund boss Thomas Tuchel now favourite to take charge at Paris Saint­Ger­main. That leaves a re­turn to the Ital­ian na­tional team as Conte’s most likely next move

There have also been claims that Conte is an­gling to be sacked and that ex­plains some of his bizarre de­ci­sions this sea­son, in­clud­ing ques­tion­ing the club’s trans­fer pol­icy. But the Ital­ian added: “I am very an­gry. I am very sad for this sit­u­a­tion.

“Those who know me very well know I am try­ing to do my very best to change this sit­u­a­tion be­cause I have great re­spon­si­bil­ity.

“I feel great re­spon­si­bil­ity for my work.

“Some­times it is very dif­fi­cult to sleep with these type of prob­lems.”

TRUE BLUE ..FOR NOW Conte says he has no in­ten­tion of leav­ing – de­spite what his old friend said

IF THE CAP FITS Vialli said Conte was keen to es­cape Stam­ford Bridge

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