Manchester United overlooking Antonio Conte hurt Patrice Evra, who has no doubt his former Juventus boss could have turned things around at Old Trafford. 

Conte was linked with United ahead of the dismissal of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last November, but Ralf Rangnick was given the nod as an interim boss with a view to changing the club from the top down as a consultant at the end of the 2021-22 season. 

Rangnick averaged 1.5 points per game and a win percentage of 42 in the Premier League – both of which were record lows in the competition for a Red Devils manager – as United failed to qualify for the Champions League. 

Conte ended up at Tottenham instead and steered them from ninth to a top-four finish, leaving Evra to wonder what might have been. 

"It hurts my heart because I think Conte, [Jurgen] Klopp, [Pep] Guardiola – all those managers are the best in the world right now and we could have had him at Manchester United," Evra told The Mirror. 

"But some people at the club, they said: 'It's not our style, it's not what we’re looking for.' 

"So let's see, now we have Erik ten Hag. Let's see what he's going to do. He has my support. But then, even if you brought a chef in, as the manager of Man United, he'd have my full support." 

Evra added: "It's a massive disappointment because he [Conte] could have done something at Man United. 

"And you can see with Tottenham, he helped them to qualify for the Champions League spot. They have the same players, so that's why this manager is a genius. 

"When I arrived at Juventus, every player told me: 'Patrice, this guy is a genius. He's addicted, he's so passionate about football. So you're going to run really hard. He's going to make you sweat.' 

"But if you look at the Tottenham fans, they are so happy because when they see the players now, win or lose, they give everything. That's the mentality of Antonio Conte. 

"That's why I say it hurts. Not because it's Tottenham – I love every team – but it's just because Conte could have done something." 

Carlos Tevez has expressed an interest in bringing Angel Di Maria back to Rosario Central after being confirmed as their new head coach, as he pledged to emulate former Juventus boss Antonio Conte upon entering the dugout.

Former Manchester United, Manchester City and Juve forward Tevez was appointed as Central's new boss on Tuesday, having ended his illustrious playing career earlier this month.

Speaking at his unveiling after signing a one-year contract with the four-time Argentinian champions, Tevez revealed his interest in coaching his former international team-mate Di Maria. 

Di Maria – who made 39 appearances for Central at the start of his career before heading to Europe with Benfica - is leaving Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer and has attracted interest from the Bianconeri, but Tevez plans on speaking with him soon.

"I haven't spoken to Di Maria", he said. "I barely have time to speak to my wife! I haven't spoken to her. 

"But who wouldn't like to have him? Di Maria means a lot to this club. When the situation calms down, I'll call him and ask him what he wants to do.

"We know him. He would bring a lot. He would bring his experience to young players. In addition to experience, he has great technical quality. He has played in the biggest clubs, it would be easy to be his trainer."

Di Maria is the fourth-most capped player in the history of the Argentina's national team with 122 appearances (after Lionel Messi with 162, Javier Mascherano with 147 and Javier Zanetti with 145), and will hope to appear at his fourth World Cup in Qatar later this year.

Meanwhile, Tevez won a remarkable 26 titles during his playing career, and featured under a host of big-name coaches including Alex Ferguson, Massimiliano Allegri and Roberto Mancini.

But the 38-year-old says Tottenham boss Conte, who signed him for Juventus in 2013, is his foremost coaching inspiration.

"When you stand on the other side of the line, the player dies, that's one way of putting it." He said. "You start to think differently, much colder. Today I am a coach and I like this profession. 

"I have a great reference who was Conte at Juventus, he was one of those who taught me the most as a player.

"I'm going to try to get the team to play at least a little bit, or half the way his team played."

Brad Friedel believes the opportunity to play under Antonio Conte is a "big pull" for Tottenham in the transfer market.

Spurs have wasted no time in strengthening their squad after qualifying for the Champions League, signing Ivan Perisic, Fraser Forster and Yves Bissouma.

Richarlison and Djed Spence are among the other players the London club have been linked with.

Former Spurs goalkeeper says the prospect of working with Conte will be a big draw.

"What I would like to see and which it's really nice to see happening is that Antonio Conte is given the pieces to his puzzle," he told Sky Sports.

"I would assume when the players are meeting him that it's a big pull that they're gonna be playing for him.

"It's happening fairly early, that's not how it normally happens at Tottenham.

"A lot of players are going to want to go to the clubs that they know they are gonna have Champions League football each and every year."

Introducing our third summer signing...  pic.twitter.com/GMEjKo1MH9

— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) June 17, 2022

Bissouma featured 26 times for Brighton and Hove Albion last season and ranked fourth in their team in successful passes (1,059) as well as duels won (145). He was also second in completed tackles (49).

The Mali international had been linked with a number of top clubs and Friedel thinks he is a perfect fit for Conte's Tottenham.

"He very much fits Antonio Conte's style of play," the ex-United States international added.

"He seems that type of high-energy player that you could sit back and close players down like Conte wants, he can break quickly on the counter-attack, he has vision and a range of passing."

There had been speculation that Conte could leave Tottenham, with talk of a move to Paris Saint-Germain, but Friedel downplayed those fears.

"It seems like the board is really backing him," Friedel continued. "He wanted the players in that he wants to work with, that will fit in his style of play."

Tottenham have completed the signing of Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder Yves Bissouma for a reported fee of £25million.

The 25-year-old signed a four-year deal with Antonio Conte's side on Friday.

Conte reportedly demanded assurances from Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy that his side would spend to compete with the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea after qualifying for the Champions League.

The Italian has subsequently been granted his wishes, with the experienced Ivan Perisic and back-up goalkeeper Fraser Forster joining the London club before they landed Bissouma.

Tottenham will open their Premier League campaign at home to Southampton as Antonio Conte embarks on his first full season in charge.

Spurs will be out for revenge in their August 6 opener after Southampton scored two goals in three minutes to steal a 3-2 victory in this exact fixture last February.

That started a run of three losses in four league games, with the one victory perhaps surprisingly coming at Manchester City, as Spurs' form nosedived before they recovered to secure Champions League football.

While Ralph Hasenhuttl's side may pose a tough test, a more difficult challenge follows on the next matchday with a trip to Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea for Tottenham's first London derby of the season.

A trip to Premier League champions City comes on September 10, but all eyes will be on October 1 when Spurs visit Arsenal for the first meeting of the campaign between the north London rivals.

Conte's side face a challenging late April, hosting Manchester United before an away clash with Liverpool, while Tottenham will conclude their top-flight season at Leeds United.

Tottenham's 2022-23 Premier League fixtures in full:

06/08/2022 - Southampton (h)
13/08/2022 - Chelsea (a)
20/08/2022 - Tottenham (h)
27/08/2022 - Nottingham Forest (a)
30/08/2022 - West Ham (a)
03/09/2022 - Fulham (h)
10/09/2022 - Manchester City (a)
17/09/2022 - Leicester City (h)
01/10/2022 - Arsenal (a)
08/10/2022 - Brighton and Hove Albion (a)
15/10/2022 - Everton (h)
19/10/2022 - Manchester United (a)
22/10/2022 - Newcastle United (h)
29/10/2022 - Bournemouth (a)
05/11/2022 - Liverpool (h)
12/11/2022 - Leeds United (h)
26/12/2022 - Brentford (a)
31/12/2022 - Aston Villa (h)
02/01/2023 - Crystal Palace (a)
14/01/2023 - Arsenal (h)
21/01/2023 - Fulham (a)
04/02/2023 - Manchester City (h)
11/02/2023 - Leicester City (a)
18/02/2023 - West Ham (h)
25/02/2023 - Chelsea (h)
04/03/2023 - Wolves (a)
11/03/2023 - Nottingham Forest (h)
18/03/2023 - Southampton (a)
01/04/2023 - Everton (a)
08/04/2023 - Brighton and Hove Albion (h)
15/04/2023 - Bournemouth (h)
22/04/2023 - Newcastle United (a)
25/04/2023 - Manchester United (h)
29/04/2023 - Liverpool (a)
06/05/2023 - Crystal Palace (h)
13/05/2023 - Aston Villa (a)
20/05/2023 - Brentford (h)
28/05/2023 - Leeds United (a)

Manchester City will start their Premier League title defence at West Ham, while Frank Lampard will host his former club Chelsea with Everton on the opening weekend.

City pipped Liverpool to their fourth English top-flight crown under Pep Guardiola and there will be significant interest around their August 7 opener at London Stadium, where new signing Erling Haaland could make his debut after arriving from Borussia Dortmund.

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool will aim to mount another title charge in the 2022-23 campaign and they go to newly promoted Fulham for their first game.

Chelsea eased into third place last term and their first league game of the Todd Boehly era sees them travel to face Blues great Lampard at Everton, who narrowly avoided relegation to maintain their top-flight status.

Manchester United finished in a disappointing sixth last campaign, with a 4-0 thrashing at Brighton and Hove Albion a low point, and they host the Seagulls in what will be Erik ten Hag's first game in charge.

Arsenal will visit Crystal Palace on August 5 as the season's opening game, while promoted side Bournemouth are at home to Aston Villa.

Antonio Conte's Tottenham sneaked into the Champions League last season and open their campaign at home to Southampton, with Nottingham Forest playing their first top-flight fixture in 23 years away at Newcastle United, who climbed out the relegation zone under Eddie Howe in the previous term.

Testing opening for Liverpool, Guardiola faces late Blues clash

Liverpool were in the hunt for an unprecedented quadruple for much of the 2021-22 season, but fell short and ended up with just the EFL Cup and FA Cup crowns to their name.

Klopp's side will be tested in the opening weeks of the season, facing four – United, Chelsea, City and Arsenal – of the traditional 'big six' sides in the first 11 games, alongside a Merseyside derby at Everton on September 9.

The first clash between United and Liverpool will come just three matchdays into the season, with the Reds visiting Old Trafford on August 20.

Liverpool then head Chelsea and Arsenal either side of the late September international break, with champions City travelling to Anfield just a week after the Gunners trip.

Supporters in Manchester will eagerly await October 1 for the first meeting between United and City at Etihad Stadium, while the first north London derby between Tottenham and Arsenal comes on the same day.

The Premier League title race went down to the wire last campaign, and City could face a tough task if it does so again as they host Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea in an enticing clash on the penultimate weekend.

Premier League opening weekend fixtures:

Crystal Palace v Arsenal
Bournemouth v Aston Villa
Everton v Chelsea
Fulham v Liverpool
Leeds United v Wolves
Leicester City v Brentford
Newcastle United v Nottingham Forest
Tottenham v Southampton
Manchester United v Brighton and Hove Albion
West Ham v Manchester City

Antonio Conte is building a squad at Tottenham that may finally be able to end the club's long wait for silverware, former striker Robbie Keane has told Stats Perform.

Spurs pulled off quite a coup by appointing Conte as their head coach last November after bringing an early end to Nuno Espirito Santo's tenure.

The north London side were eighth in the Premier League when Conte took over, yet a fine second half to the campaign saw them pip fierce rivals Arsenal to fourth place.

Indeed, the 71 points Tottenham accrued in the 2021-22 campaign made up a tally they have bettered in only three previous Premier League seasons (86 in 2016-17, 77 in 2017-18 and 72 in 2012-13).

Guiding Spurs back into the Champions League was described as "being a trophy" for Conte, but actual silverware has eluded the club since winning the EFL Cup in 2008.

Conte has already started to strengthen ahead of the 2022-23 season, with experienced winger Ivan Perisic – a league winner in Germany and Italy – set to join from Inter on July 1.

Other big names have also been linked, and Keane, who spent eight and a half years with Tottenham across two spells, believes the new arrivals can help bring trophies to the club.

"I think what he's doing is he's trying to get the business in early," Keane said at a media day ahead of his participation in Sunday's Soccer Aid charity match.

"He's already brought in Perisic from Inter, a player who has a winning mentality. He's obviously won things.  

"I think that's what Conte wants to do. He wants to bring people in who've already been there and done it, because a lot of them Tottenham players haven't won anything. 

"So to bring someone like him in, and I'm sure they'll do more business in the next month or so."

Conte is no stranger to winning major honours as a manager, including in his previous stint in England when he claimed the Premier League title and FA Cup with Chelsea.

"Conte's a winner. He has a winning mentality and there's no question that he'll certainly bring that," Keane added.  

"Tottenham next year have to do something, they have to win the FA Cup, EFL Cup or the Champions League. I think the Premier League might be a step too far. 

"I think if they bring three or four players in, they might be might have a chance, but I think Liverpool and Manchester City are just so far ahead at the moment.

"But to win the FA Cup, EFL Cup, I think that's a step in the right direction, and hopefully, again, finishing in the top four."

All focus at Tottenham this window is on adding to the squad, which is in contrast to 12 months ago when Harry Kane's possible departure dominated headlines.

The England international has appeared more settled since Conte's arrival and finished the 2021-22 campaign strongly with five goals in Tottenham's final five Premier League games.

That took Kane's tally to 17 for the campaign in the top flight, which is his joint-lowest return in the competition in his eight seasons as a regular starter, alongside 2018-19.

He was outscored by team-mate Son Heung-min, who, despite finishing as the league's joint-top scorer alongside Mohamed Salah, was not included in the PFA Team of the Year.

Son was also not included on the list of nominees for the Players' Player of the Year award, much to the surprise of Keane.

"Not to even be nominated is bizarre," Keane said. "For me, he's one of the best players in the Premier League.

"What he and Kane are doing together at Tottenham is incredible.

"I've obviously known Harry since he was a kid, so I taught him! He's a top player, and he's continued to score goals like he always does. "

Ivan Perisic will join Tottenham from Inter on a free transfer when his contract expires as he joins up with former Nerazzurri coach Antonio Conte.

Perisic cast doubt over his Inter future after his extra-time brace secured the Coppa Italia with a 4-2 win over Juventus earlier in the month.

The Croatia international hinted at an exit, suggesting he did not know about a potential renewal, before adding "with the important players [the club] doesn't wait until the last moment".

Nerazzurri coach Simone Inzaghi subsequently expressed his hopes that Perisic would opt to stay with the Serie A club, as speculation persisted over the 33-year-old reuniting with former boss Conte at Spurs.

Perisic took to Instagram to confirm his departure on Tuesday, stating he leaves "feeling privileged having this club in my portfolio" before Tottenham announced their first signing of the close-season

The versatile midfielder has agreed a two-year deal with the Premier League side, who he will join on July 1 when his contract at Inter comes to an end.

Perisic has vast experience across European football, having won the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal with Borussia Dortmund in 2012, before moving to Wolfsburg in 2013.

He added a second DFB-Pokal and DFL-Supercup to his trophy cabinet with Wolfsburg prior to joining Inter two years later.

Perisic, who has played 113 times for Croatia, was then sent on loan to Bayern Munich in the 2019-20 season, winning the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League.

He returned to Conte's Inter the following season and was utilised across a range of positions from wing-back to forward as the Nerazzurri secured the Scudetto.

Inter fell just short of Milan this season in Serie A despite Perisic scoring 10 goals and providing nine assists across all competitions, and he will now look to add Premier League honours to his illustrious haul of trophies.

Tottenham teenager Dane Scarlett has signed a new contract that will take him through to the end of the 2025-26 season in north London.

The forward became the youngest player to feature for Spurs in the Premier League when he made his debut against West Brom in February 2021, at the age of 16 years and 320 days.

He had previously become the club's youngest player to feature in a major European competition, following a Europa League appearance against Ludogorets in November 2020.

His assist against RZ Pellets WAC in February saw him become the fourth different 16-year-old to provide an assist in the Europa League (since the 2009 rebrand) after Romelu Lukaku, Iker Muniain and Kylian Mbappe.

Scarlett made seven first-team appearances in the 2021-22 season, including being named in the starting XI for three Europa Conference League fixtures.

While Spurs clearly see a future for Scarlett, reports have suggested Antonio Conte has been promised up to six new signings ahead of next season after securing Champions League qualification.

On Tuesday, Tottenham announced a capital injection of up to £150million from the club's majority shareholder ENIC Sports Inc (ENIC) that could further boost Spurs' transfer plans.

Tottenham have stated they can further invest both on and off the pitch after agreeing a capital injection of up to £150million from the club's majority shareholder ENIC Sports Inc (ENIC).

This equity increase has been enabled by "the issue of convertible A Shares and accompanying warrants", according to the Premier League club.

Spurs' statement explained the investment "represents permanent capital, with no ongoing interest cost to the club, and which may be drawn in tranches until the end of the year".

The statement added that Spurs' "independent directors have benefited from [their] majority shareholder's ability to invest directly, swiftly and without the extensive due diligence and documentation involved in third party funding."

ENIC now has the ability to increase its ownership from 85.6 per cent to 87.5 per cent. 

The news comes after reports emerged that Antonio Conte, who guided Spurs to Champions League qualification, had been promised up to six new signings in the close season.

"The delivery of a world-class home was always a key building block in driving diversified revenues to enable us to invest in the teams and support our ambitions to be consistently competing at the highest levels of European football," said Spurs chairman Daniel Levy.

"Additional capital from ENIC will now enable further investment in the club at an important time."

Real Madrid have set their sights on Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling after missing out on Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe.

The Spanish giants were widely regarded as favourites to land Mbappe until a late change of heart led to him signing a three-year extension to stay in France.

Madrid and City went head to head in the Champions League semi-final, but they may find themselves talking business soon for the England international.

 

TOP STORY – LOS BLANCOS PREPARE BID FOR STERLING

Sterling has spent seven seasons with City, racking up 131 goals in 338 appearances in all club competitions, and has played no fewer than 46 games in any of those campaigns.

Despite this, his playing time waned in the closing stages of this season, culminating in the Champions League when he only played a combined 28 minutes across both fixtures against Madrid.

Sterling set a record at the time for the most expensive transfer of an English player when he was sold to City for £44million plus add-ons in 2015, but Madrid are not looking to overshoot that number by much, with the Daily Star reporting they will offer £50million.

ROUND-UP

– According to Sky Sports, Sadio Mane fancies a move to Bayern Munich in the upcoming transfer window.

– The Telegraph is reporting Tottenham will sign six players, heavily investing in an attempt to convince Antonio Conte to stay.

– The Telegraph is also reporting one player high on Tottenham's wish-list is Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus, who also has strong interest from Arsenal.

Arsenal will try to sell as many as seven first-team players in the upcoming transfer window – with Hector Bellerin and Bernd Leno named by The Sun. The Telegraph added that Leicester City midfielder Youri Tielemans is a key target for the Gunners.

– The Times is reporting Leeds United are set to sign 21-year-old USA international Brenden Aaronson from RB Salzburg for £23m.

Tottenham boss Antonio Conte says the club's qualification for the Champions League is like winning a trophy. 

Spurs claimed a fourth-placed finish in this season's Premier League after a resounding 5-0 win over bottom club Norwich City on Sunday.

The win was secured through Harry Kane's header and braces from Dejan Kulusevski and Son Heung-min.

Son's double saw him claim the Premier League Golden Boot alongside Liverpool's Mohamed Salah after the pair finished with 23 goals each.  

Conte has overseen an impressive turnaround since he took over from Nuno Espirito Santo in November.

Spurs were eighth in the table then, yet a fine second half of the campaign saw them finish with 71 points – a tally that have only bettered in three previous Premier League seasons (86 in 2016-17, 77 in 2017-18 and 72 in 2012-13).

"I didn't win a trophy in this season like in the past but if I am honest to get a place in the Champions League given the difficulty with the situation in November, I have to consider it a really big achievement," he told a media conference.

"After two years Tottenham is able to play again in the Champions League. For me this is a trophy and I'm very happy.

"To become very good and to compete for something important you need to improve in many aspects. I know only one word and that's work, work, work.

"Everybody has to do the right path in this process. For sure we need to improve a lot. Next season the league will be very difficult for all of the teams."

Conte, who signed a contract until the end of the 2022-23 campaign, said he will need a few days to gather his thoughts before ensuring his ambitions are in line with those of the club's hierarchy.

"I am under contract until next summer," he added. "I signed a contract for one year and seven months. I have enjoyed a lot my time in Tottenham.

"It was a big challenge in a modern club, with a fantastic stadium and training ground and I knew the situation I would find.

"On the other hand you know I am a person who has ambition and I like to fight for something important, to lift trophies. I always said to you that at the end of the season I'd speak to the club and find the best solution.

"Now I think for me, the club and my players I think it's good to have three, four or five days of rest and then the mind will be clear and then you can consider the whole season and be calm before you speak.

"Now there are lots of emotions for me in my mind."

Son Heung-min and Mohamed Salah shared the Premier League Golden Boot award after the respective Tottenham and Liverpool stars finished on 23 goals each.

Tottenham forward Son edged ahead of Salah in the race for the top-flight top scorer's accolade as the South Korea international fired in twice in a 5-0 rout of Norwich City at Carrow Road on Sunday, as Spurs confirmed their place in next season's Champions League.

Hoewever, Salah got back level with Son when he scored in the 84th minute at Anfield as Liverpool defeated Wolves 3-1, but that win was not enough to secure the Premier League title, which went to Manchester City after their dramatic 3-2 comeback victory over Aston Villa.

Son became the first Asian player to win the Premier League Golden Boot, while Salah has won the award for a third time. The Egypt forward also scooped the Playmaker of the Season award, having assisted a league-high 13 goals.

Antonio Conte came into special praise after the game from Son, who expressed his amazement at winning the personal accolade in the English top flight.

"It's incredible to have this award. I can't believe it. I got really emotional. I dreamed of it as a child. Literally, it's in my hands. I can't believe it," Son told BBC Sport.

"Until my goal I was really frustrated that I missed big chances. I told the players I missed the easiest chances and scored one of the toughest ones.

"I didn't give up. I wanted to score today. The team helped me a lot at half-time. They wanted to help me, you could see it today.

"This season was a great lesson. Next season we can look forward to the Champions League. Everyone deserves to be there.

"Conte gives us so many different things. Before he came here nobody believed we’d reach the Champions League."

On Son's achievements, Conte said to Sky Sports: "It's a magnificent achievement for him. I think Sonny felt a bit of pressure to reach this achievement but we are very happy for him.

"Today we had two targets. The first was to get into the Champions League and then to try to help Sonny to become top scorer and so we're very happy."

Meanwhile, Salah added a third Premier League Golden Boot to his name, having topped the charts with 32 goals in the 2017-18 campaign before sharing the award with Sadio Mane and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the following campaign (22 goals each).

Simone Inzaghi insists Inter's season will be defined as a success even if they fail to win the Scudetto.

Inzaghi's side head into the final matchday of the Serie A campaign two points behind leaders and fierce rivals Milan, who require just a point at Sassuolo to win the title due to a superior head-to-head record.

Inter host Sampdoria, who have won just one of their last 19 league visits to the Nerazzurri, knowing the Serie A title is out of their hands as they rely on Stefano Pioli's Milan faltering on Sunday.

Regardless of the title outcome, Inzaghi views the season as a success after winning the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana, while making the Champions League last 16, where they were defeated by Liverpool.

"We have won two cups, expressed ourselves well, returned to the Champions League last 16 and are fighting for the title on the final day of the season," Inzaghi said at Saturday's pre-match news conference.

"The team has had a great year and I am very happy. It would be extraordinary to win the Scudetto as well, but we have given everything and we know we have given satisfaction to our fans."

Inter sit on 81 points heading into the final day, and 80-plus points have been enough for the Nerazzurri to win the title on five of the previous six occasions they have passed that mark.

However, should Milan avoid defeat at Sassuolo, the 2021-22 campaign will follow suit with the 2019-20 term when Inter finished second behind Juventus, despite collecting 82 points.

Inzaghi will be bitterly disappointed should Inter miss out to neighbours Milan, but he does not expect to come under criticism for failing to defend the title that Antonio Conte's Nerazzurri won last season.

"I have an excellent relationship with Antonio, there is mutual respect," he said of Conte. "Comparisons are normal, but I have never given those any weight.

"The club has always been with me from day one. It will have been a satisfactory year for our work anyway.

"The coaches are always under scepticism, we knew how things were and the demands of the club. Along the way we realised that we have gone beyond expectations."

Meanwhile, Ivan Perisic has hinted at a move away when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Asked about a renewal after the Coppa Italia win, Perisic told Mediaset: "I don't know, but with the important players [the club] doesn't wait until the last moment."

But Inzaghi assured there will be discussions with the Croatia international, who he feels is a special player.

"I think he went further; until you train a player you can't realise," Inzaghi said when asked if Perisic has lived up to expectations.

"Perisic has always been special to watch. He has had an extraordinary season – I think he has outdone himself.

"There will be a meeting with the club. I hope there will be progress. He is an important player for Inter. There is a great, open relationship and we will take stock of everything."

Antonio Conte insisted Champions League candidates Tottenham can stomach any sickness crisis as they bid to avoid a crisis comparable to 2006's 'lasagne-gate' on the final day of the season.

Gary Lineker raised concerns among Tottenham fans when he wrote on Twitter that he had heard of "a food poisoning outbreak" at the club ahead of Sunday's trip to Norwich City.

Former Spurs striker Lineker, now a respected television presenter, added: "No, I am not joking."

It then emerged that Harry Kane had reported feeling unwell on Friday and pulled out of an event he was due to attend at a London museum.

The speculation sparked concerns there might be a repeat of the 2005-06 season-ending drama when food poisoning hit Tottenham hard on the final weekend. Then, a string of stars were left stricken and played their game against West Ham despite vomiting in the changing rooms before kick-off.

Tottenham lost 2-1 and were overtaken by north London rivals Arsenal, who snatched the fourth Champions League place thanks to a 4-2 win over Wigan Athletic. The episode was quickly branded 'lasagne-gate', given the choice of pre-match dinner of several of the Spurs players, as conspiracy theories abounded.

This time around, Tottenham hold a two-point advantage over fifth-placed Arsenal, who slumped to a dismal 2-0 defeat at Newcastle United on Monday, and Spurs will be virtually assured of fourth with a draw due to their considerable goal difference advantage over the Gunners.

Conte said on Friday: "If you remember the last game, the game against Burnley, we had three, four cases of a stomach problem.

"In this week, to be honest we had a couple of cases about this, but we overcame the situation. Members of the staff for one day they were not feeling so good, I don't know why, but last week and also this week, we faced this kind of situation.

"But in this moment, this virus is the last of our problems, because we are very close to reaching a big achievement for the club, for our fans and for the players.

"We are totally focused on the game, and the situation of the players and the availability is the same as for the last game against Burnley."

Asked whether he expected Kane to be available, Conte said: "For sure. For sure Harry doesn't want to miss this type of game, and this game it means a lot for everybody.

"The whole season is behind this game. We can reach something amazing for us, because I think no one can imagine Tottenham in the top four this season. 

"This must be a big push for us because we've worked very hard and deserve to be in this position. Everything is in our hands. For this reason, we want to get it."

Told about the saga which unfolded 16 years ago when Martin Jol's sickly Spurs surrendered fourth place, Conte said: "I don't want to know this story, it is not good. It is not a lucky story."

Norwich have already had their relegation confirmed, so Spurs will be facing a side with little incentive other than to finish a gloomy campaign on a high at Carrow Road, but Conte is not taking anything for granted.

"In England there are no easy games," Conte added. "I remember in my experiences as a player that I had in the last game lucky situations and unlucky situations. For this reason, we have the right focus, and we are understanding very well the importance of the moment."

Norwich have won just one of their last nine league games against Tottenham (three draws, five losses), a 1-0 home victory in February 2014. The Canaries have conceded at least twice in each of their last five against Spurs (one draw, four defeats).

That loss is also the only defeat Spurs have suffered in their last 10 trips to Norwich, winning six and drawing three in that stretch.

One concern for Tottenham, however, may be their record against teams already relegated from the Premier League on the final day of the season.

Surprisingly, they have lost more of those games (three) than they have won (two), beating Wolves in 2003-04 and Hull City in 2016-17, but losing against Leicester City in 2001-02, Burnley in 2009-10, and Newcastle United in 2015-16.

Should Spurs claim a result at Carrow Road, Conte will become the fifth manager to finish in the top four of the Premier League with two different clubs, after Kenny Dalglish, Rafael Benítez, Claudio Ranieri and Jose Mourinho.

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