Antonio Conte admitted the gap between Tottenham and their rivals is ‘very big’ and Jamie Redknapp fears he may WALK away… so, what must Daniel Levy do in the last eight days of the January transfer window to keep the fiery Italian happy?
- The gap between Spurs and their rivals was laid bare after their Chelsea defeat
- Antonio Conte is desperate for new signings, and Daniel Levy will have to spend
- Demanding Tottenham boss wants a wing back, central midfielder and a forward
- Jamie Redknapp believes Conte may even walk away if he is not properly backed
Time is ticking, Daniel Levy. There are just days left until the transfer window slams shut at the end of the month, and there is still business to be done. Whether or not Antonio Conte remains as his manager may depend solely on this.
In recent weeks, Conte has resembled an agitated and frustrated figure on the touchline. That dismay with the state of the task in his hands will surely extend to off-field matters, too, and the onus is now on the chairman to act.
After Spurs’ limp 2-0 defeat by Chelsea, Jamie Redknapp voiced his concern that Conte may walk away if he is not backed by those above him. Currently, that doesn’t seem like a far away fantasy, with the Italian renowned for his demanding nature.
Antonio Conte will need to be backed this month if he is to haul Tottenham into the top four
Spurs lost 2-0 at Chelsea at the weekend, a result that emphasised the gap between the rivals
‘He needs players. There must have been an agreement between him and Daniel Levy they’d bring in the players he needs,’ Redknapp told Sky Sports.
‘He’s done a great job to get in this position. There’s a massive gulf between Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea and the rest you can see it.
‘Tottenham are so close to get into the top four, no other manager could have done in this position.
‘But he needs backing he needs to get players in.
Daniel Levy will be forced to break open his chequebook, with Conte keen for reinforcements
‘Two, three, four players in and he’s got nine days in the window to do it. Daniel Levy is a difficult man for managers to deal with.
‘If you don’t back him (Conte) you look at his history with Inter Milan, I think he’ll leave the club because you can’t promise and then not deliver.’
The result served only to underline the gulf in class between both clubs. That will hurt Conte, perhaps more than most, in light of his past history at Chelsea.
Thomas Tuchel’s side, of course, are the current Champions League holders and, until their recent wobble, looked on course to push for the Premier League title.
Conte enjoyed a superb start in the Premier League at Spurs, but will be desperate to kick on
On the other hand, Spurs have a mishmash squad, players with little winning experience and a reluctance to splash the cash when it is needed. That is the gap Conte must bridge, but he will need Levy to thrust his hand into his pockets.
Conte himself has highlighted the difference between Tottenham and their rivals, and highlighted that the project at the club is long-term. There is no quick fix, and he is under no illusions that the road ahead may continue to get rockier.
‘This is not the right moment to speak in front of the media,’ he said after the loss by Chelsea. ‘The club know very well what I think and the time that we need to close this gap – there is not one transfer market to close the gap.
‘In the last few years, this gap became very, very big and now it is not simple to find a solution in a short time and for this reason, I’m only focused on working with the players until the end. Then, we will see.
Spurs may look to bring in a new wing back, central midfielder and forward in this window
‘We have four months to try to give everything, but if we think we will solve it with this transfer window, it is not the reality. You need many years, but for sure you have to start and there is a point to start.’
Spurs may look to start this journey by knocking on Wolves’ door. As reported by Sportsmail, Adama Traore is one of their first-choice targets this month. Conte, it is understood, has big plans to convert the rapid forward to a wing back.
It was revealed last week that Spurs are edging closer to wrapping up a £20million deal, having seen an initial £15m bid rejected. Should the switch get across the line, Traore will slot straight in on the right-hand side, and inject energy.
More is needed, though. Conte also wants to sign a new creative midfielder and a forward. The line-up he named for the defeat at Stamford Bridge means it comes as no shock that these are the areas he is desperate to strengthen.
Adama Traore is a key target for Spurs, with a deal worth £20million said to be edging closer
His teams are blended together through pragmatism and fluidity on the breakaway, yet neither of these traits were visible in the capital. The starting XI was uninspired, and that set the tone for what quickly unfolded into a miserable evening.
Conte is certainly one to walk if he feels he is not being supported. With vast resources behind him and a club fully committed to his methods, he has proven time and time again that he is a serial winner – just ask the Chelsea faithful.
Adding a new frontman into the equation will help to ease the burden on Harry Kane and, to a slightly lesser extent, Son Heung-min. Take these two superstars out, and Spurs are toothless. To catch up with the giants around them, that must change.
There is a gaping hole in midfield, too. Harry Winks and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg played from the off against Chelsea, both solid enough performers but not players capable of injecting some much-needed inspiration into this listing cruise liner.
Conte wants to bring in a new attacker, a move which may help ease the burden on Harry Kane
This month, there will also be outgoings. Dele Alli and Tanguy Ndombele are shoe-ins for the exit door, while Giovani Lo Celso has also failed to impress the new boss. All three were nowhere to be seen at Stamford Bridge, but were also not missed.
When the news broke that Alli was left out of the matchday squad, ripples of speculation quickly flooded across social media than his departure was imminent. That is currently not the case, but Conte would be willing to let the midfielder go.
He has not been able to make an impact this season, albeit in his limited cameos here and there. The situation under Nuno Espirito Santo was the same, and it truly does appear that his career at Tottenham is set to come to an end this month.
Sportsmail understands that Spurs remain locked in talks with Paris Saint-Germain over a potential loan move for Ndombele. Having arrived in 2019 for a club-record £65million fee from Lyon, the manner of his failure has been particularly chastening.
Dele Alli was left out against Chelsea and is one of three players who may depart the club soon
Indeed, he has failed to catch the eye under four separate managers during his time at Spurs. It is even said that he is now training on his own, having been left out of recent squads. Conte may be keen to ship him out sooner rather than later.
Doing business this month has always been notoriously difficult, and Spurs may have to settle for loan departures instead of banking some valuable millions for the transfer kitty – although this may also damage their hopes of splashing the cash.
Club chief Levy is renowned for keeping the chequebook firmly shut until he deems a move is truly worth doing, and this has proved a source of frustration for the fanbase, who have regularly taken aim at his failure to strengthen at crucial times.
Previous managers have reluctantly accepted this, but Conte will not. The spotlight is now firmly on the boardroom, because they wield the power to make the tactician’s tenure a success or a failure. For the former, they must spend big.
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