Chelsea to make Antonio Conte highest-paid manager to ward off Inter

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Antonio Conte will be rewarded for Chelseas Premier League success with a massive pay rise to ward off Internazionales interest and he will help attract 200m of talent this summer

Chelsea are prepared to make Antonio Conte the highest-paid manager in their history and bankroll a lavish strengthening of his squad this summer as they seek to build on the teams impressive Premier League title success.

Conte, who signed a three-year deal worth around 6.5m-a-season at Stamford Bridge last summer, is expected to open talks on new terms after next weeks FA Cup final. Chelsea are acutely aware the 47-year-old is coveted by Internazionale whose Chinese owners, Suning Holdings, removed the head coach Stefano Pioli last week after only six months in charge and would apparently be prepared to double Contes money to bring him to San Siro.

While the Italian has indicated an instinctive desire to remain at Stamford Bridge and lead his team into a Champions League campaign he and his wife, Elisabetta, have been looking for schools in London for their daughter, Vittoria Chelsea will seek to deflect Inters interest by offering Conte an improved contract which better reflects his startling achievements over a first season in England. He is currently paid less than Pep Guardiola, Jos Mourinho, Arsne Wenger and Jrgen Klopp, whose sides he has comfortably eclipsed this season.

Roman Abramovich is likely to offer him in excess of the 7.5m-a-year agreed with Mourinho in August 2015 after the Portugueses last title success for the club. Negotiations may still not be entirely straightforward, with Conte expected to seek the appointment of another Italian to his coaching staff when Steve Holland leaves the club this summer to become Gareth Southgates No2 with England on a permanent basis. Gabriele Oriali, a former player and sporting director who worked closely with Conte in the Italian national set-up, is a candidate for the role, though Inter have expressed an interest in taking him to San Siro. Chelsea had not envisaged adding to an already extensive coaching staff.

Conte will also seek greater input on recruitment, despite the close relationship he already enjoys with the sporting director, Michael Emenalo, and the influential football club and plc board member, Marina Granovskaia. But both manager and owner, ever conscious that Chelseas squad were fortunate with injuries this season, Conte has publicly praised the medical staff recognise the need to add depth to the playing staff if the team are to compete effectively in the Champions League.

The club are seeking to strengthen up and down their spine in deals which could cost in excess of 200m as a throwback to the lavish spending of Abramovichs early days in charge. The Everton forward Romelu Lukaku, who is keen to return to Chelsea, and Alexis Snchez are both targets, though persuading Arsenal to part with the latter may prove problematic. There is strong interest in the France midfielder Tiemou Bakayoko, a key member of the Monaco team who lead Ligue 1 and reached the Champions League semi-finals, and the Southampton centre-half, Virgil van Dijk.

Conte, who hopes to achieve Chelseas second Double with victory at Wembley over Arsenal, is targeting two high calibre players in every position, a strategy that may also see the addition of two wing-backs to challenge Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses, for all their considerable contribution this term. The manager would ideally seek to add either Juventuss Alex Sandro or David Alaba of Bayern Munich to his ranks.

John Terry will depart under freedom of contract, ending a glittering 22-year association with the club, while Nathan Ak could seek a fresh start elsewhere on a permanent basis. It remains to be seen whether Diego Costa, subject of strong interest from Tianjin Quanjian, is still at the club in August. The Spain forward, contracted until 2019, was unsettled mid-season but indicated lastweek it is far from certain he will move to China.

Chelsea will resist any move by Real Madrid to lure Eden Hazard to the Bernabu, with the Belgian likely to be offered a new deal to remain in south-west London.

Courtois: We have silenced the critics and the laughter

Thibaut Courtois has said Chelseas players were stung by their failings last season, when they were reduced to laughing stocks as their title defence fizzled out, and praised his team-mates for bouncing back.

The Belgium international has featured in all but one of the champions league games this season, claiming his fourth domestic league title in seven seasons spent at Genk, Atltico Madrid and Stamford Bridge, with his form restored to that seen during Chelseas success in 2015. No other goalkeeper can match the 16 clean sheets he has secured this campaign, form that has helped exorcise the memory of the sides 10thplace finish 12 months ago.

Its amazing, especially after last year, he said. We had a lot of criticism, a lot of laughter at us. To bounce back in this way, to be champions After the Arsenal game [in September] we were maybe in a bad moment again, but we bounced back and had an amazing six, seven months. Were very proud about that.

Last year, we had a moment when we were 15th, 16th in the league and people laughed at us. We were criticised and thats not nice after a season when you had won the league. Some criticisms were deserved and others were not.

They said we didnt want to play any more, they said we were lazy, that kind of stuff, which wasnt true.

We tried to win our games but last year was just an off-year. Everybody is used to play for trophies and that was not the case, so everybodys pride was hurt. Thats why we wanted to bounce back this season. To do that by winning the title again, thats amazing.

Our work ethic combined with a hunger of not wanting another season like last year. We have a lot of winners in this team.

Courtois, who has been linked with a return to Spain with Real Madrid, joined the underused Willian in committing his future to Chelsea in advance of the teams return to the Champions League. Next season that is a new goal coming for us, the 25-year-old said.

Its already been a few years since Chelsea won the Champions League [in 2012] and I missed out on one with Atltico in the last minute [in 2014], so lot of the players are hungry for winning that as well.

You need additions because you play on four different fronts, so thats important, but the club and the manager know what theyre doing. We have already a lot of quality, but sometimes you need a bit more depth. This year we didnt have injuries and you never know what can happen next year. So they will do their work now and, hopefully, we can finish the season with an FA Cup win as well.

Retaining stellar names such as Eden Hazard will be critical, as well as Willian and other elite squad players. My future is here with Chelsea, said Brazil forwardWillian, last seasons player of the year, who has started 13 league games this time round. I have a contract until 2020 and I am happy here.

I know sometimes players always want to play, but I understand why I dont play much. I am happy and always try to help the team when I come in for the second half. I respect the decision of Conte if he needs me in the second half or to start the game. I have to think about the group, about the team. We deserve to be champions.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/may/13/chelsea-antonio-conte-highest-paid-manager-ward-off-internazionale

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