Tottenham have appointed Antonio Conte as their new head coach after acting quickly to replace Nuno Espirito Santo.

Former Chelsea, Juventus, Inter and Italy boss Conte agreed a contract running until summer 2023 to take charge of the London club, Spurs announced on Tuesday.

With Conte having also been linked to Manchester United, Spurs moved quickly to seal his signature after sacking Nuno.

Conte said: "I am extremely happy to return to coaching, and to do so at a Premier League club that has the ambition to be a protagonist again.

"Tottenham Hotspur has state-of-the-art facilities and one of the best stadiums in the world.

"I can't wait to start working to convey to the team and the fans the passion, mentality and determination that have always distinguished me, as a player and as a coach."

 

Tottenham made an unsuccessful attempt to recruit 52-year-old Conte prior to their appointment of Nuno in the close season.

That was part of what became a chaotic process to replace Jose Mourinho on a permanent basis, with Nuno seemingly well down the list of candidates after Ryan Mason had taken interim charge towards the end of the 2020-21 season.

Conte left Inter at the end of last season after his two years in charge climaxed with him winning the club's first Serie A crown for 11 years, ending the dominance of his former club Juventus, with whom he claimed the Scudetto on three occasions as a coach.

He won the Premier League and FA Cup during two years in charge of Chelsea from 2016 to 2018, leaving after his second season ended with a fifth-place finish in the Premier League.

Conte thanked Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy for showing persistence.

New boss Conte said on Spurs' official website: "Last summer our union did not happen because the end of my relationship with Inter was still too recent and emotionally too involved with the end of the season, so I felt that it wasn't yet the right time to return to coaching.

"But the contagious enthusiasm and determination of Daniel Levy in wanting to entrust me with this task had already hit the mark. Now that the opportunity has returned, I have chosen to take it with great conviction."

 

Nuno's reign at Spurs ended just 10 league matches and four months into a two-year contract he signed in June. He had previously spent four largely successful years in charge of Wolves.

A 3-0 home defeat to Manchester United on Saturday, when home fans expressed their frustration, proved to be his final game at the helm, with his top-flight total representing the lowest number of Premier League matches in charge for any permanent Tottenham manager in history.

The club are desperate to end a run that has not seen them win a trophy since 2008, after huge investment in an impressive new stadium.

Spurs have been runners-up in the Premier League and Champions League during that 13-year span, as well as losing three times in the EFL Cup final.

Conte's tenure will begin when Tottenham play at home to Vitesse in the Europa Conference League on Thursday before they face Everton in the Premier League at Goodison Park on Sunday.

Tottenham's managing director of football Fabio Paratici welcomed the appointment, saying: "We are delighted to welcome Antonio to the club. His track record speaks for itself, with vast experience and trophies in both Italy and England.

"I know first-hand the qualities Antonio can bring to us, having worked with him at Juventus, and look forward to seeing his work with our talented group of players."

Tottenham moved quickly after sacking Nuno Espirito Santo on Monday, appointing Antonio Conte as his successor just a day later.

The swift changeover is a huge departure from the shambles Spurs found themselves embroiled in during pre-season when initially hiring Nuno, who was apparently way down their list of candidates to replace Jose Mourinho.

Conte was said to have been Spurs' ideal choice back then but was reluctant to jump straight back into a job after leaving Inter. But now he does find himself in charge at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, and he's got plenty of work on his hands.

While their 15 points from 10 Premier League matches is by no means a disaster as they sit ninth in the table, the major concerns relating to Spurs have been the style of play and Harry Kane's form.

With this in mind, Stats Perform delves into the Opta numbers to see what Spurs fans can expect from the Italian.

Undoubted pedigree

It really is a sign of the times – and the Premier League's financial might – that Tottenham are able to sack a coach they never really wanted and bring in the bloke who won Serie A just last season.

Granted, Inter winning the Scudetto was hardly a fairytale story, and they spent a fair amount of money to build the team that got the job done, but you can't deny the fine job Conte did in two years there.

His first season saw them narrowly miss out to Juve by a single point, while they also got to the Europa League final only to lose to Sevilla – that was hardly a disgrace given the Spaniards have never lost a Europa League/UEFA Cup final.

It was clear to see Inter were building to something and in 2020-21 they got their first Serie A title in 11 years, ending the Juve domination that stretched back to 2010-11 and coincidentally began with Conte as coach.

Of course, it could be argued that Conte's return to Italian football was timed perfectly, with Juve slipping as a force and Serie A waiting for another team to take over, but there's no getting away from the fact Inter were dominant for a massive part of the season – they were top from matchday 22 all the way through to the end of the season.

After a 2-1 loss at Sampdoria on January 6, Inter did not lose again before sealing the title, with the 3-2 defeat away to Juve on the penultimate day of the season having no impact on the Nerazzurri's end position.

Conte turned Inter from perennial underachievers to champions, and while money was spent, so many of those brought in improved significantly under his guidance as well.

The system

Conte's tactical tendencies are well-publicised. In fact, there aren't many coaches in world football who are more associated with a specific system than he is with his.

During his last spell in the Premier League, which included one title success, his Chelsea lined up with a back three in all but six of his 78 top-flight matches.

In the long run, Spurs fans can expect such a set-up to lead to greater pressing intensity. While Inter's 294 high turnovers may have only been enough to rank sixth in Serie A (and it would have been the same in the Premier League) last term, that total was still far more than Tottenham (228), the third-lowest in the English top flight.

Among the two sides with even fewer high turnovers than Spurs were Nuno's Wolves (205).

Inter's 12.8 PPDA (opposition passes allowed per defensive action) for 2020-21 was roughly average across Serie A and the Premier League, suggesting Inter didn't necessarily do their most aggressive pressing from the front.

Additionally, it could be argued that Spurs actually have a group of players well-suited to making the most of an intense press. Of course, the Nerazzurri's high turnovers total was much greater, but when it comes to efficiency, Spurs were slightly better in 2020-21.

Spurs' shot-ending high turnovers accounted for 16.2 per cent of their total, while that figure was 15 per cent for Inter. They both scored five goals from such situations.

Granted, this doesn't take into consideration the differing cultural styles between the two leagues, with the Premier League quite open and Serie A traditionally a little tighter, but it suggests Conte's ideals might actually translate rather well to the Spurs squad.

That's not to say we should expect overnight changes. So far this season, Spurs rank 82nd out of the 98 teams in Europe's top five leagues for high turnovers (62) and pressed sequences (124). A drastic change of mentality will take a time.

Whipping up a Harry Kane

What Spurs fans will be most intrigued to see, however, is whether Conte can get Kane back to his best.

The England captain could not find a way out of the club in pre-season, with Manchester City lurking, and while he has not exactly kicked up a fuss in public about being made to stay, his performances haven't helped certain perceptions of him.

After all, he achieved the rare feat of finishing top of the goals and assists charts last season – that hadn't been accomplished since Andy Cole in 1994. His form was one of few positives for Spurs.

Yet in 2021-22, his productivity has dipped significantly. He has gone from scoring 0.7 goals per game to 0.1, with just a solitary strike in nine Premier League matches.

Now, it would be fair to suggest Nuno's tactics haven't helped. Spurs are joint-lowest – with relegation-doomed Norwich City – for shots per game (10.3), and it's difficult to blame that on one player, regardless of how much Kane has dropped off.

Kane has seen his own shooting frequency almost halve to just 2.1 per 90 minutes from 3.9 last season and he's not creating much either, his chances created dropping to 0.8 from 1.4 each game.

But with Conte, there is certainly cause for optimism, at least in terms of getting Kane firing again – assuming his poor form is down to system and not a reaction to not getting a transfer.

Granted, Romelu Lukaku and Kane are very different players, but Conte knew how to get the best out of the Belgian, who scored 47 league goals in 72 games under the Italian at a rate of one every 124.9 minutes (0.7 per 90 minutes).

Only for Steve Clarke at West Brom has Lukaku scored more frequently (one every 117.82 mins) in his career (top five leagues).

Of course, Lukaku wasn't doing it all by himself at Inter – his 3.0 shots per game last season was actually fewer than Lautaro Martinez's 3.8. They were essentially a two-man frontline, perhaps something we can expect to see with Kane and Son Heung-min once again.

Both Lukaku and Martinez averaged more touches (7.3 and 6.7) and shots (2.6 and 3.0) in the box than Kane (5.0 and 2.5) as well, further evidence of how Conte's system enables two central strikers to thrive as an attacking threat.

The relationship between Son and Kane has long been heralded, and last season Martinez and Lukaku linked up for eight goals from 29 overall chances – another tick in the pros column.

There will be those who claim Conte represents a gamble, especially given his rather volatile reputation and how that may not fuse well with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, yet you could argue no manager is a guarantee.

But what is undoubtable is Conte's track record and work ethic as a coach. There's every reason to think this could be a masterstroke for Spurs, but only if he's allowed to do it all his way.

Tottenham have appointed Antonio Conte as their new head coach after acting quickly to replace Nuno Espirito Santo.

Former Chelsea, Juventus, Inter and Italy boss Conte agreed a contract running until summer 2023 to take charge of the London club, Spurs announced on Tuesday.

With Conte having also been linked to Manchester United, Spurs moved quickly to seal his signature after sacking Nuno.

Conte said: "I am extremely happy to return to coaching, and to do so at a Premier League club that has the ambition to be a protagonist again.

"Tottenham Hotspur has state-of-the-art facilities and one of the best stadiums in the world.

"I can't wait to start working to convey to the team and the fans the passion, mentality and determination that have always distinguished me, as a player and as a coach."

 

Tottenham made an unsuccessful attempt to recruit 52-year-old Conte prior to their appointment of Nuno in the close season.

That was part of what became a chaotic process to replace Jose Mourinho on a permanent basis, with Nuno seemingly well down the list of candidates after Ryan Mason had taken interim charge towards the end of the 2020-21 season.

Conte left Inter at the end of last season after his two years in charge climaxed with him winning the club's first Serie A crown for 11 years, ending the dominance of his former club Juventus, with whom he claimed the Scudetto on three occasions as a coach.

He won the Premier League and FA Cup during two years in charge of Chelsea from 2016 to 2018, leaving after his second season ended with a fifth-place finish in the Premier League.

Conte thanked Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy for showing persistence.

New boss Conte said on Spurs' official website: "Last summer our union did not happen because the end of my relationship with Inter was still too recent and emotionally too involved with the end of the season, so I felt that it wasn't yet the right time to return to coaching.

"But the contagious enthusiasm and determination of Daniel Levy in wanting to entrust me with this task had already hit the mark. Now that the opportunity has returned, I have chosen to take it with great conviction."

 

Nuno's reign at Spurs ended just 10 league matches and four months into a two-year contract he signed in June. He had previously spent four largely successful years in charge of Wolves.

A 3-0 home defeat to Manchester United on Saturday, when home fans expressed their frustration, proved to be his final game at the helm, with his top-flight total representing the lowest number of Premier League matches in charge for any permanent Tottenham manager in history.

The club are desperate to end a run that has not seen them win a trophy since 2008, after huge investment in an impressive new stadium.

Spurs have been runners-up in the Premier League and Champions League during that 13-year span, as well as losing three times in the EFL Cup final.

Conte's tenure will begin when Tottenham play at home to Vitesse in the Europa Conference League on Thursday before they face Everton in the Premier League at Goodison Park on Sunday.

Nuno Espirito Santo's replacement at Tottenham will be no surprise.

Antonio Conte had been rumoured as the top choice.

The ex-Inter man looks set to make it official on Tuesday, barring any late hitches.

 

TOP STORY – CONTE SET FOR SPURS MOVE

With Nuno Espirito Santo officially out, Antonio Conte is set to step in at Tottenham.

According to widespread reports, Conte has agreed a contract through June 2023 and the move will be finalised on Tuesday.

The 52-year-old left Inter by mutual consent after last season.

The Sun claims Spurs will give Conte £150million to spend on new players.

 

ROUND-UP 

- Paul Pogba prefers Paris Saint-Germain over Real Madrid or Juventus once he makes his expected departure from Manchester United, Fichajes reports.

- PSG are eyeing Karim Adeyemi as a potential replacement should Kylian Mbappe leave, Sky Sport in Germany reports. The 19-year-old Red Bull Salzburg striker also has drawn interest from Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

- Real Madrid's Marco Asensio will be in demand in January, with El Nacional reporting Liverpool, Arsenal, Juventus, Milan and Dortmund all have offers ready.

- Arsenal are eyeing Torino striker Andrea Belotti, says Calciomercato.

- Villarreal's Unai Emery is the new favourite to take over as Newcastle United manager, says the Mirror.

Ramon Vega says Tottenham’s under-achieving players must take more responsibility after Nuno Espirito Santo was sacked as head coach on Monday.

Nuno’s four-month tenure ended following the 3-0 home defeat to Manchester United on Saturday, with Antonio Conte a strong favourite to replace the former Wolves boss.

Tottenham did not register a shot on target in an abject display against United and Nuno departed with the London club eighth in the table, with five wins and as many defeats from his 10 Premier League games in charge.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, former Spurs defender Vega made clear his feelings that players have not been showing the right attitude, while also questioning why the club did not try harder to bring Conte in before appointing Nuno.

"The players here have to take responsibility with the way they are playing," Vega said.

"I'm a little bit unhappy with how the players are really showing their attitude and willingness to play for the club.

"It's irrelevant if it's Nuno or any other manager there. You're playing for the club, you get paid by the club and you need to show some commitment and that's not what I've seen from these players so far.

"My understanding at the moment is that Antonio Conte is the frontrunner to be appointed. But my question is why was he not given what he wanted in the summer instead of wasting time and potentially [damaging the] reputation of a very good manager, because Nuno is a very good manager but he did not have the time or the chance to really improve the team.

"So, why suddenly now does Conte have the facilities that Tottenham can give him and not in the summer?"

Nuno’s 10 Premier League games at the helm is the lowest tally of any permanent Tottenham manager, one fewer than Jacques Santini's 11 in 2004.

Vega also pointed to the transfer saga surrounding Harry Kane, who was strongly linked with a move to Manchester City, suggesting that it has played a role in Tottenham's stuttering start to the season.

"The Harry Kane scenario, this is exactly the reason why we are here now today," the former Switzerland international added.

"There's no doubt the dressing room went apart and there was unhappiness and I think that when the players don't click together or are not playing as a team you will see that on the pitch.

"From my point of view the Kane saga was a disaster for the club. But there is a responsibility as a player - how he actually acted at that time he didn't act professionally. At the same time you have to play him now, there's not even a question mark."

Jamie Redknapp believes Antonio Conte would be a "brilliant" appointment for Tottenham, but hopes the Italian will not use Spurs' interest to prompt Manchester United into action.

Tottenham sacked Nuno Espirito Santo on Monday, his reign ending four months into a two-year contract he signed to take over as head coach following four successful years in charge of Wolves.

A 3-0 home defeat to United, where home fans had expressed their frustration, proved to be Nuno's final game at the helm.

Spurs have reportedly offered former Inter and Chelsea boss Conte, who they had previously pursued unsuccessfully before hiring Nuno, an 18-month contract.

Ex-Spurs midfielder Redknapp is convinced Conte is of the required quality for Spurs but hopes his possible appointment will not spur United into action.

Conte has also been linked with a move to Old Trafford, where incumbent Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was under huge pressure going into the Spurs victory.

"Conte would be a brilliant signing for them," Redknapp said to Sky Sports.

"I’m sure a lot of Tottenham fans would be delighted with Conte – he is a first-class manager and a serial winner, he did an incredible job with Chelsea and Inter Milan, so he knows the game inside out. 

"Spurs need to be careful Conte does not play them off with Manchester United and maybe force United's hand, so it will be an interesting few days."

He added: "I do not understand why after four months you could get him, but you could not four months ago.

"There was a problem with the transfer budget and he could not agree with what Daniel Levy wanted to do with the club.

"When you have a manager like Conte, you have to give him the licence to get the players in that he wants and to play the system he wants, you can't interfere, he does things his way.

"He has worked with Tottenham's director of football [Fabio Paratici] before at Juventus, so that is important as that has to work. They have to pull in the same direction, otherwise it can be a disaster.

"Right now, on the field Tottenham are the laughing stock of football, off field they are the envy of everyone because of the stadium and the training ground, but they are making a lot of mistakes in that boardroom."

Nuno's 10 Premier League games at the helm is the lowest tally of any permanent Tottenham manager.

Redknapp has sympathy for the Portuguese boss, adding: "Four months – what chance have you got to build a squad, or a team? 

"I get the frustration at the weekend of the Tottenham fans and their right to voice their opinions, but this has been going on for a while now.

"Mauricio Pochettino found it hard to get a tune out of this team, Jose Mourinho has and now Nuno has found it difficult.

"It is a talented squad, but there is something missing there and from Nuno's point of view, he inherited the Harry Kane situation, which is really difficult for any manager.

"You have your star player wants to leave and does not want to be at the club and you have to somehow deal with that.

"That is hard trying to bring a squad together and can cause an enormous amount of problems.

"Nothing surprises me at Tottenham, Levy does not mess around and I'm sure he knows he needs to get this next one right."

Tottenham are at home to Vitesse in the Europa Conference League on Thursday before they face Everton in the Premier League at Goodison Park on Sunday.

Tottenham are once again on the hunt for a new head coach following the sacking of Nuno Espirito Santo on Monday.

For many, Nuno's fate had been sealed as soon as he took the job at the end of June, as it was widely reported that Spurs had failed to land a host of other coaches before turning to the man who had done a fine job turning Wolves into Premier League mainstays.

He lasted just four months at the helm, with his pragmatic approach not appreciated by the Spurs support – but Saturday's comprehensive 3-0 home defeat by a Manchester United side in the midst of a crisis of its own was the straw that broke the camel's back.

The fans made their feelings as Nuno's decision to substitute Lucas Moura with Steven Bergwijn was widely greeted with chants of "you don't know what you're doing", and the full-time whistle was met with thunderous jeers.

Speculation on Sunday suggested chairman Daniel Levy had opened emergency talks with other decision-makers at the club, and Nuno was gone the following morning.

Now, Stats Perform looks at who might be next in at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium…

 

Antonio Conte

Former Chelsea boss Conte will likely be most Tottenham fans' ideal replacement for Nuno. For starters, he is a free agent having left Inter after winning Serie A last season – breaking Juventus' nine-year grip in the process and ending the Nerazzurri's long wait for a league title.

The first three of those nine consecutive league titles for Juventus were won by Conte himself, who took a Bianconeri side that had not won the Scudetto since their revoked success in 2005 and established an era of dominance, going undefeated in the league in his first season (2011-12) and setting the Serie A points record (102) in his third.

His achievements in Italy are coupled with experience and success in England, winning the Premier League with Chelsea in 2017 (racking up an impressive 93 points) and claiming an FA Cup the year after.

Conte does have a reputation for being a volatile coach, and this may not lend itself to a long-term relationship with Levy, but his track record is almost unparalleled in terms of coaches currently available, and let's not forget that he turned Jose Mourinho's sloppy seconds at Chelsea into a side that was often sensational.

If Spurs act fast, they could potentially get him before the pressure is cranked up on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer again.

 

Zinedine Zidane

Another free agent – and a particularly glamorous option – is Zinedine Zidane. The Frenchman's second stint as Real Madrid boss came to an end in May and he remains available.

Zidane won the Champions League three times in a row in his first spell as Los Blancos head coach and also claimed two LaLiga titles over his five years in the role.

The 49-year-old is the record holder for most consecutive LaLiga away wins (13) and the longest unbeaten run in Spanish football (40 games). Spurs would surely see him as a massive upgrade on Nuno, but the problem is Zidane does not appear to be easily coaxed.

When it looked as though Solskjaer was doomed last week, reports suggested Zidane wasn't interested – are Spurs able to offer a lure that United can't?

Brendan Rodgers

Less decorated than the previous two names, sure, but Rodgers has a wealth of experience in the English game and has done an admirable job in his current post as Leicester City head coach, guiding the Foxes to their first-ever FA Cup success last season as well as successive fifth-placed Premier League finishes.

He also claimed back-to-back domestic trebles in his two-and-a-half seasons with Celtic and, let's not forget, previously turned Liverpool from mere European hopefuls into title challengers – coming within two points of winning the Premier League in his second season on Merseyside.

Rodgers was tipped for the Spurs job when Mourinho left but was apparently committed to Leicester. However, recent reports have suggested he could be tempted by a new project.

He would also offer fans the kind of attractive football they crave.

Erik ten Hag

Ten Hag has impressed with Ajax, winning two Eredivisie titles and embarking on a memorable run to the Champions League semi-finals in 2018-19, knocking Madrid and Juventus out before coincidentally going out to Spurs on away goals.

Ajax have been effective but also entertaining under Ten Hag, which would undoubtedly be a big attraction for Spurs fans who have grown weary after the best part of two years watching teams managed by Mourinho and Nuno.

It remains to be seen if the Dutchman – who has also been linked with Newcastle United – would be willing to leave mid-season, but it won't be long until a major European club comes for him. Spurs would do well to get to the front of the queue while they have the chance.

 

Sergio Conceicao

This would not be the first time that Conceicao has replaced his former team-mate Nuno – he took over from him at Porto in 2017 and has been in charge ever since.

A fiery character, this Porto team is in many ways built in his image: they are aggressive, direct and robust. It is not a style that pleases everyone, as Pep Guardiola criticised Conceicao's defensive approach before and after a Champions League match last year, but he has been effective.

Under Conceicao, Porto have not finished outside of the top two in the Primeira Liga, winning two titles and finishing second to Benfica and Sporting CP.

Since Bobby Robson left Porto in 1996, only Vitor Pereira (78.3) and another former Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas (90) have boasted better win percentages in the league than Conceicao (77.4), yet the incumbent's 146 matches is 56 more than the other two combined.

Paulo Fonseca

Highly regarded football coaches are probably Portugal's second biggest export behind Port wine – Fonseca is another who has been linked with numerous Premier League clubs in recent times.

Much like Conte, Ten Hag and Rodgers, Fonseca was also apparently an option for Spurs before Nuno, with negotiations reportedly ending due to tax problems.

Who is to say if that will be an issue again, but Spurs managing director of football Fabio Paratici is said to be an admirer, with Fonseca also still available after he left Roma at the end of last season.

He is known for his attack-minded football, which again will be a tick for supporters.

Nuno Espirito Santo's future as Tottenham manager is in doubt after a slow start.

The Portuguese only took over in June but his side are eighth in the Premier League with five losses already.

Spurs were humbled 3-0 at home by under-pressure Manchester United on Saturday.

Supporters made their feelings known at full-time as boos rung out around Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

TOP STORY – SPURS READY TO REPLACE NUNO

Tuttomercato claims that Tottenham are working on a deal to have ex-Inter boss Antonio Conte replace Nuno Espirito Santo as manager.

Football Insider also reports that Spurs will sack Nuno this week, with Ryan Mason to be installed as their interim boss again.

The Standard claims that Porto head coach Sergio Conceicao is also under consideration for the job.

 

ROUND-UP 

- Le Parisien reports that Paris Saint-Germain could sensationally walk away from their contract with off-season signing Sergio Ramos, who is yet to debut for the club due to ongoing injury issues from his time at Real Madrid. PSG are said to believe they were misled about his injury status.

- Barcelona are interested in a loan deal for Manchester United's wantaway Dutch midfielder Donny van de Beek, reports Sport.

- Real Madrid are considering moves for Manchester United's Paul Pogba and Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger, claims Marca.

- Theo Hernandez will ignore Manchester City 's advances and pen a new deal with Milan, reports Calciomercato.

- Tuttosport reports hot property Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic wants to join Juventus amid interest from Tottenham, among others.

Dusan Vlahovic has already made it clear he will not re-sign with Fiorentina.

The in-demand Serbia international is wanted by a host of European clubs.

Juventus are reportedly ready to make their move.

 

TOP STORY – VLAHOVIC TO TURIN IN JANUARY?

Juventus are eyeing a January swoop for Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic, according to Tuttosport.

Vlahovic has no plans to re-sign with Fiorentina and the Serbia forward has been linked to Juve, Inter, Atletico Madrid, Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham.

But Juve are believed to be desperate to prise Vlahovic from Florence amid their struggles, while Gazzetta dello Sport claims contact has already been made.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Daily Star reports Manchester United have cooled their interest in Antonio Conte as a possible replacement for under-fire manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer due to his expensive demands. Zinedine Zidane, Ajax boss Erik ten Hag and Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino have also been linked.

Real Madrid and Liverpool are considering moves for United midfielder Paul Pogba, says Ekrem Konur. Pogba is out of contract at the end of the season and he has been linked with Barcelona, PSG and Juventus also.

- ESPN claims Chelsea and Newcastle United have been sounded out over their possible interest in struggling Madrid star Eden Hazard.

- Serie A rivals Inter and Juve are set to battle it out to sign Borussia Monchengladbach star Matthias Ginter, per Sport Bild.

Nicolo Barella will sign his new Inter deal next week, according to Fabrizio Romano. Barella had been linked with the likes of PSG, Atletico and Liverpool.

Antonio Conte drew the best out of Romelu Lukaku at Inter after showing him support that felt lacking at Manchester United, the striker's agent has claimed.

As Conte emerges as a possible candidate to become the next United manager, should Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continue to struggle, his credentials as a coach who helps players to achieve their potential have been underlined by remarks from Lukaku's representative Federico Pastorello.

When Lukaku joined Inter from United in August 2019, it was on the back of a disappointing second year at Old Trafford in which he scored 15 goals in 45 games – 32 were starts – at a rate of one every 201 minutes.

That was the fewest goals he had managed in a full season since establishing himself in the Premier League during a loan spell at West Brom in 2012-13. Lukaku was owned by Chelsea during his time with the Baggies. He saw little action for the Blues first time around, but his Premier League career has come full circle this year after he returned to Stamford Bridge following two prolific years with Inter in Italy.

Four strong seasons at Everton were followed by a 27-goal first campaign with United, before the team's fortunes nosedived in the final months of Jose Mourinho's tenure, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer taking over midway through the 2018-19 campaign.

His goals under Mourinho in that season came at one every 273 minutes, improving to one every 151 minutes once Solskjaer took the reins for the Red Devils.

But Pastorello said Lukaku still needed the assurance he was central to a manager's plans, and he found that at San Siro under Conte, a former Chelsea boss who wanted to sign the striker during his stint in west London.

"Two years of work with Mr Conte helped him. 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," Pastorello told Sky Sports News.

"He felt wanted. This is what he was not able to feel at Man United. That happens."

 

Across two years in Italy, Lukaku hit 64 goals in 95 games, at one every 121 minutes. He bettered his expected goals tally of 57.73 and created 133 chances, having carved out just 82 in 96 games for United.

According to Pastorello, Thomas Tuchel showed a compelling desire to make Lukaku a prize asset at Chelsea, making "a fantastic speech" that convinced the Belgian striker a second spell at Stamford Bridge was the right switch.

"He gave him the feeling that he really wanted him, that he was the perfect last piece in the puzzle," Pastorello said, recalling Tuchel's words to Lukaku before the reported £97.5million transfer. "It's very crucial for a player to decide to go in a team with a coach that really wants him."

After making a fast start at Chelsea, with four goals in his first four games across all competitions, Lukaku finds himself on a seven-goal barren run, with Tuchel saying the striker is mentally fatigued. He is also currently injured, with no clear indication yet of when he might return.

Despite the brouhaha surrounding his early impressive performances, Lukaku's goals in this spell for Chelsea have now come at an average of one every 208 minutes, albeit these are just the early stages of the campaign. The fact Chelsea sit top of the Premier League has eased the pressure on Lukaku to hit another scoring streak.

"Rom's brain and his mind is very focused with Chelsea," Pastorello said. "He will rest a little bit, but he'll be back with more will to win trophies."

Lukaku has missed Chelsea's last two games due to a minor injury sustained in last week's Champions League win over Malmo.

Ronald Koeman has been sacked as head coach of Barcelona following a poor start to the club's first season without Lionel Messi in 17 years. 

Financial difficulties saw the six-time Ballon d'Or winner leave for Paris Saint-Germain and, in his absence, Koeman's side have struggled. 

The Dutchman replaced Quique Setien at Camp Nou in August 2020 and led Barca to Copa del Rey success in his first season, although they finished third in LaLiga and suffered a Champions League last-16 exit, as well as losing the Supercopa de Espana final to Athletic Bilbao. 

A shock 1-0 loss at Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday was the final straw and with the club in turmoil, it is imperative that Koeman's successor is chosen with great care. Stats Perform takes a look at the leading contenders who have been linked with the position. 

Xavi

With Koeman dismissed, Barcelona could turn to another club legend in Xavi, hoping the La Masia graduate can succeed where his predecessor failed with an unbalanced squad of ageing regulars and young talent. The former Spain international has presided over Qatari side Al Sadd since his retirement in 2019, leading them to a league title and six domestic cups.

Turning to a young coach who does not have any experience in Europe amid a time of upheaval could be viewed as a huge risk, however. Plus, will Xavi see this as the right time to return? The opportunity to manage Barca is likely to come around again at some stage.

Andrea Pirlo

Another candidate who enjoyed a glittering career as a central midfielder in his playing days, Pirlo replaced Maurizio Sarri at Juventus in August 2020 and won the Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italiana, but was sacked at the end of his debut season following a fourth-placed Serie A finish and another disappointing European exit, this time against Porto.

While Pirlo has experience of coaching in a top-five league, his stint in Turin hardly demonstrated the Italian has the credentials at this stage of his career to rescue an ailing Barcelona side.

Roberto Martinez

Martinez has a greater coaching pedigree, although the highest level he has managed at has come on the international stage with Belgium — a job he still holds. The 48-year-old guided the Red Devils to a third-place finish at the 2018 World Cup and took them to number one in the FIFA world rankings, though a major trophy continues to elude them.

At club level, however, he has managed Everton and Wigan Athletic in the Premier League, winning the FA Cup but also suffering relegation with the latter, and also Swansea City below the top tier — rather different jobs to the one that faces the newcomer at Barcelona.

Erik ten Hag

Could Barca turn to another Dutchman to try to turn their on-field fortunes around? Ten Hag has built his reputation at Ajax, having previously worked at Utrecht and Go Ahead Eagles, as well as a stint with Bayern Munich's second string. He has twice won the Eredivisie title, while he appeared set to reach the Champions League final in 2019, only for Tottenham to produce a stunning comeback in Amsterdam.

Barcelona, who know what it is like to be on the wrong end of a second-leg turnaround in Europe, have well-documented financial problems at the moment, potentially raising an issue if they want to try to lure away a coach under contract elsewhere.

Antonio Conte

Conte is out of work, at least meaning Barca would not have to pay any compensation to appoint him. However, that does not mean the Italian comes cheaply, considering he has a hugely impressive resume. The former Juve boss made a quick impact at his previous two jobs, having returned to club duties after a spell in charge of the Azzurri.

He won the Premier League title in his first season at Chelsea, during which they produced an impressive 13-game winning streak, then ended Inter's Scudetto wait last term, leading the Nerazzurri to a first championship since 2010. His San Siro departure amid Inter's financial cutbacks does raise questions over whether he would want to go anywhere near Camp Nou right now, particularly with Manchester United also reportedly interested.

Marcelo Gallardo

A name strongly linked with the post, Gallardo started out his coaching career with Nacional in Uruguay. However, he has been in charge of River Plate — a club he had three stints at during his playing career — since 2014, winning the Copa Libertadores twice among an impressive list of honours at Los Millonarios.

The last Argentinian coach to take the top job at Barca did not last too long: Gerardo Martino had just one season at the helm. Gallardo would have to cut short his River journey to do so, a move he suggested was not likely after revealing he plans to see out a contract that runs until the end of 2021.

Manchester City had a relatively quiet off-season in the transfer market.

City landed Jack Grealish from Aston Villa in a big-money move but failed in their efforts to sign Tottenham star Harry Kane following Sergio Aguero's exit.

But the Premier League champions could be more active in the January transfer window.

 

TOP STORY – CITY PLAN FOR DE JONG SWOOP

Manchester City are plotting a move for Barcelona star midfielder Frenkie de Jong, according to Calciomercato.

De Jong, who also has interest from Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, signed a five-year deal with Barcelona effective from July 2019, tying him down to 2024.

The 24-year-old Netherlands international has made 11 appearances in all competitions this season and is yet to score.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fabrizio Romano claims Manchester United have made no official proposal for former Chelsea and Inter boss Antonio Conte yet amid doubts over the future of Red Devils manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer following Sunday's 5-0 rout at the hands of Liverpool. Zinedine Zidane and Ajax's Erik ten Hag are also possible options.

- Manchester United's wantaway Dutch midfielder Donny van de Beek is preparing to make a January move with Voetbal International claiming he has swapped agents. EvertonNewcastle United and Juventus are all interested in Van de Beek, per Metro.

Paris Saint-Germain will switch their attention to Bayern midfielder Corentin Tolisso if they cannot secure a move for Manchester United's Paul Pogba, reports Calciomercato. Pogba has also been linked with Juve and Real Madrid.

Newcastle and Juve are contending to sign Barca forward Ousmane Dembele, according to Sport. Dembele is set to exit Barca at the end of this season and his agent has reportedly been in touch with both clubs about a move, while Liverpool and United are also possible destinations.

 

Manchester United's 5-0 mauling at the hands of Liverpool could prove to be the beginning of the end, or indeed the final straw, for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The team have performed poorly this season, failing to win any of their last five domestic games (losing four) and requiring last-minute winners from Cristiano Ronaldo to beat Villarreal and Atalanta in the Champions League following an embarrassing 2-1 loss to Young Boys.

Sunday's embarrassing scoreline set a number of unwanted records, including United's largest margin of defeat against Liverpool at home and the first time the Red Devils had trailed by four goals at half-time in the Premier League.

Solskjaer only signed a new three-year deal with an option for an additional year in July, but disappointing results have sparked speculation about the Norwegian's future.

If Solskjaer is indeed replaced, who might take his spot and be charged with guiding United back to the top? Stats Perform takes a look at some of the favourites.

 

Antonio Conte

Conte seems, in many ways, to be an ideal appointment for United. For starters, the Italian is a free agent, having left Inter after winning Serie A last season – breaking Juventus' nine-year grip in the process and ending the Nerazzurri’s long wait for a league title.

The first three of those nine consecutive league titles for Juventus were won by Conte himself, who took a Bianconeri side that had not won the Scudetto since their revoked success in 2005 and established an era of dominance, going undefeated in the league in his first season (2011-12) and setting the Serie A points record (102) in his third.

His achievements in Italy are coupled with experience and success in England, winning the Premier League with Chelsea in 2017 (racking up an impressive 93 points) and claiming an FA Cup the year after.

Conte does have a reputation for being a volatile coach, but his track record of titles will surely be tempting for United, who have not won the Premier League since Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement in 2013.

However, former United defender Gary Neville does not think the ex-Italy coach is a good fit for the club, telling Sky Sports: "Conte's available but I wouldn't bring him to Manchester United. I wouldn't bring him here now. I don't think Antonio Conte is a fit for Manchester United."

Zinedine Zidane

Another free agent – and a particularly glamorous option – is Zinedine Zidane. The Frenchman's second stint as Real Madrid boss came to an end in May and he remains available.

Zidane won the Champions League three times in a row in his first spell as Los Blancos head coach and also claimed two LaLiga titles over his five years in the role.

The 49-year-old is the record holder for most consecutive LaLiga away wins (13) and the longest unbeaten run in Spanish football (40 games) and United would surely see him as an upgrade on Solskjaer.

He has also previously coached Cristiano Ronaldo, to great success, and might be the perfect candidate to get United's stars working together cohesively. 

 

Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers is less decorated than the previous two names on this list, but has a wealth of experience in the English game and has done an admirable job in his current post as Leicester City head coach, guiding the Foxes to their first-ever FA Cup last season as well as successive fifth-placed Premier League finishes.

He also claimed back-to-back domestic trebles in his two-and-a-half seasons with Celtic, but his association with United's rivals Liverpool may prove to be an obstacle, having come within two points of winning the Premier League in his second season on Merseyside.

Mauricio Pochettino

Pochettino has reportedly long been admired by United, being regularly linked with a move to Old Trafford in his five-year spell in north London, having taken Tottenham to a Champions League final in that time.

However, the Argentine only joined Paris Saint-Germain in January and signed a contract extension until 2023 in July, and is coaching a team that includes Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, not to mention the rest of PSG's star-studded squad.

Never say never, but this deal would certainly be a difficult one for United to pull off given the timing.

 

Erik ten Hag

Ten Hag has impressed in his time in the Netherlands, winning two Eredivisie titles with Ajax and embarking on a memorable run to the Champions League semi-finals in 2018-19, knocking Madrid and Juventus out before falling going out on away goals to Pochettino's Spurs.

Ajax have been entertaining and effective under Ten Hag and are four points clear at the top of the league once more this season, beating title rivals PSV 5-0 on Sunday.

However, it remains to be seen if the Dutchman – who has also been linked with Newcastle United – would be willing to leave mid-season.

Is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer running out of time at Old Trafford?

Manchester United are already five points off the pace in the Premier League and pressure is mounting.

United, though, are believed to be firmly in favour of sticking with their manager.

 

TOP STORY – SOLSKJAER WANTED AT THE WHEEL

Manchester United are still backing under-fire manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, according to Fabrizio Romano.

United slumped to a 4-2 Premier League defeat to Leicester City at the weekend, which has left the Red Devils with just two wins from their past seven games across all competitions.

As pressure mounts on Solskjaer, United still reportedly have faith in the Norwegian amid links with the likes of Antonio Conte, Zinedine Zidane and Erik ten Hag.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato reports Serie A champions Inter are ready to battle Arsenal for Madrid forward Luka Jovic. The Serbia international has struggled for form and fitness in the Spanish capital.

PSG want to swap Mauro Icardi for Barcelona's Sergio Aguero, claims El Nacional. The reports says Lionel Messi wants to reunite with countryman Aguero, who left Manchester City for Barca, only for Messi to join PSG.

- Monaco's Aurelien Tchouameni, Borussia Dortmund's Axel Witsel, Denis Zakaria of Borussia Monchengladbach and Ajax's Ryan Gravenberch are among Juventus' transfer targets as they look to add options in midfield, per Tuttosport. Tchouameni has also been linked with Chelsea, Manchester United, Madrid, Liverpool and Manchester City, while Roma have been eyeing Zakaria.

In the hours after the takeover of Newcastle United was confirmed, Steve Bruce admitted he would not be surprised to lose his job.

The former Manchester United defender has rarely been too popular in his two years at St James' Park, and with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) and their astonishing financial might now in control of things, fans are expecting a more high-profile candidate to lead the first team.

While Bruce is expected to have talks with the new owners next week, there are suggestions he could leave his role before the home game with Tottenham on October 17.

Who might be chosen to lead the Magpies into their new era of promise? Stats Perform looks at some of the favourites.

 

Antonio Conte

Having left Inter at the end of last season, Conte represents an ideal choice for Newcastle: an elite coach with Premier League experience who is presently a free agent.

Conte won the 2016-17 Premier League title with Chelsea and the FA Cup the following year. He won 50 of his first 73 games in charge in England's top flight, a record bettered only by Jose Mourinho (50 wins in 63) and Pep Guardiola (50 wins in 69) at the time.

The Italian then ended Inter's decade-long wait for the Scudetto before walking out before this season, highlighting the risk that comes with appointing such a volatile coach. Still, back his demands in the transfer market and it will usually pay dividends in the short term. If Newcastle's owners are after a statement of intent, there are not too many better candidates.

 

Brendan Rodgers

Rodgers was tipped for the Tottenham job when Mourinho left but was apparently committed to Leicester City. However, recent reports have suggested he could be tempted by the project now developing at Newcastle.

The former Liverpool boss has done extremely well with Leicester, with back-to-back fifth-place finishes in the league and a brilliant FA Cup triumph last term, but he has perhaps taken the Foxes as far as he realistically can. Indeed, while fifth place cannot be snubbed at, Leicester held a spot in the top four for the majority of the previous two seasons, while they have had an indifferent start to this term.

Rodgers would also offer Newcastle fans the kind of attractive football they will be craving for the new era.

Steven Gerrard

According to reports, Gerrard is keeping a close eye on developments at St James' Park and would be a welcome choice among supporters given his pedigree as a Premier League player.

Last season, the ex-Liverpool captain led Rangers to the Scottish title without losing a single game, and they are on course to defend that crown after a promising start to 2021-22.

Gerrard would be more of a gamble than some of the more experienced candidates, but he has arguably earned the opportunity.

 

Roberto Martinez

Barcelona were said to be trying to work out how they could afford to replace Ronald Koeman with Martinez last month, although the former is keeping his job for now.

After watching Belgium give up a 2-0 lead to lose to France in the Nations League semi-finals, a deeply frustrated Martinez accused his side of throwing away five years of work, adding fuel to rumours that he feels his time with the Red Devils is coming to an end.

Martinez sprung a shock by winning the FA Cup with Wigan Athletic in 2013, although his commitment to attacking football could not keep them in the division and his Everton spell ended in disappointment after an initially bright start. But he said only this week to Goal that his ideal next job was a long-term project and that it "doesn't matter where it might be in the world".

Eddie Howe

Despite being considered for the Celtic job, Howe surprisingly remains unattached since leaving Bournemouth, the club he helped to lead from England's fourth tier to the Premier League.

Like Martinez, Howe won praise for the attractive football he was able to coax out of relatively unheralded players, although he too could not quite master the balance between positive play and defensive discipline, with Bournemouth relegated in 2019-20.

There was also criticism of Bournemouth's transfer spending during Howe's time in the Premier League: Dominic Solanke, signed for roughly £19m from Liverpool in 2019, only scored three times in 42 appearances in the top flight (although his Championship form since has been much improved).

 

Rafael Benitez

The return of Benitez would undoubtedly be welcomed by Newcastle fans, who generally hold him in high esteem following his three years at the club before his move to China.

Despite failing to save them from relegation in 2016-17, the Spaniard was considered a top-drawer coach who was hamstrung by the ownership of Mike Ashley and a lack of significant investment in the squad. After winning the Championship in 2017, Newcastle finished 10th in their first season back in the top flight but only 13th in the following two campaigns.

Prising him away from Everton would be neither easy nor cheap, but his experience of winning big trophies and his relationship with the supporters would arguably make him the most popular choice as manager.

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