Reports emerged late on Sunday evening claiming Tottenham boss Antonio Conte is interested in taking the Paris Saint-Germain job. The Times are reporting that the Spurs manager is being ‘considered’ by PSG with Mauricio Pochettino set to be sacked by the French champions.
PSG have just won the Ligue 1 title under Pochettino, but the club’s failure in the UEFA Champions League, where they were knocked out at the hands of Real Madrid in the Round of 16, means the Argentine is set to be axed. Conte is reportedly open to moving to Paris on a two-year deal despite joining Tottenham in November.
While not directly related, this could have big implications on Chelsea – and one man, in particular, Romelu Lukaku. The 28-year-old striker, who joined the Blues last summer for almost £100million, has struggled in his first season back in the Premier League after being on fire in the Serie A for Inter Milan.
Of course, it was under Conte during Lukaku’s successful spell at Inter. The Belgium international managed to find the back of the net on 64 different occasions under the Italian coach, playing 95 games along the way.
“Two years of work with Mr Conte helped him,” Lukaku’s representative, Federico Pastorello, said in October of last year. “He can score left, right, head. He has completed himself as a striker working with Mr Conte. He also had the opportunity to improve himself personally.
“He felt wanted. This is what he was not able to feel when he was at Manchester United. That happens.”
It is clear that Lukaku was playing some of, if not the, best football he has ever played under Conte in Italy. So, if the Italian coach does make a move to PSG, who have already been linked with Lukaku, it might not come as too much of a surprise if the Chelsea striker wants to call time on his career at Stamford Bridge.
After all, the admiration for Conte from Lukaku is clear. “I had Antonio Conte as my manager who really helped me and showed me what to do to win, and we did it from the second season,” Lukaku said on Conte to The Independent.
“As a player, it’s a whole different game in Italy. Very, very tactical. The spaces are tight, and in most matches, you only get one chance, and if you do not score, it becomes very difficult.
“I also learned to play more back-to-goal and other technical aspects of the game, which are very important. It was a good experience.
“Each coach has a different way of coaching, but with Antonio, we really learned to go to the red zone. That’s all.”
Lukaku is yet to score for Chelsea in the Premier League this year. Albeit, he hasn’t been handed too many opportunities from the start, but he has failed to take the ones he has been given by Thomas Tuchel.
Many thought that bringing the Belgian in last summer was the missing ingredient for Chelsea to challenge for the Premier League title. This hasn’t been the case, though, but Tuchel still thinks the striker can be “crucial” for his Blues side.
Speaking recently, the Chelsea head coach said this on Lukaku: “We are not there [referencing Lukaku’s early-season form for Chelsea] anymore. He doesn’t have the influence that he had then because it was a very promising start.
“There have been turbulences since then throughout this long period of time, but we are trying everything, and he has our support to reach this kind of level again. It’s in him and in us. I think he is still at the right place, but there are things to improve from all of us, so we will not give up.
“For us, it’s clear that we can play with Romelu, and we can be very strong with Romelu. We proved it, he proved it, and he will prove it if he stays involved mentally, and he stays involved in the situation. He can grow from it and come out stronger, and it’s always like this.
“For sure, it’s disappointing for him and not what we or what he expected at the moment, but it’s not finished, and we will not give in. We never give in with any players, and he never gives in. We will push him as far as we can, and as long as the player stays involved in the mentality that is needed to bring a team forward, he can still be a crucial player.”