Conte refuses to rule out Chelsea exit at end of the season

Chelsea vs Arsenal - Stamford Bridge, London, Britain - January 10, 2018 Chelsea manager Antonio Conte REUTERS

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has refused to commit his long-term future to the club, saying there is a possibility that he may leave Stamford Bridge at the end of the season.

According to reports in British media, Chelsea are looking at potential replacements for the Italian, including Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri, in case Conte does decide to leave.

“Everything is possible,” the 48-year-old told a news conference on Friday.

”I have another year on my contract at this club but, in football, everything is possible. Our job is very difficult because everything can change quickly.

“I have another year of my contract and the club has to decide to send me away.”

Conte is the 10th different manager to take charge at Chelsea since owner Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003.

Despite winning the Premier League title and reaching the FA Cup final in his first season, there have been doubts around Conte’s position at the club since the start of the season.

When asked if he was content at Chelsea given all the speculation about his future, he added: ”Yes, I‘m happy. I‘m enjoying my period here. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t simple for me.

“When you start work you need time to improve your work, to create a solid basis. Football now is very difficult to stay for many years for one club, especially in England now.”

Conte said new signing Ross Barkley was not yet 100 percent fit to feature in the squad for Saturday’s home league game against Leicester City, but could make his debut against Norwich City in Chelsea’s FA Cup third-round replay on Wednesday.

Barkley, who joined from Everton last week, has not played a single match this season due to a hamstring injury sustained at the start of the campaign.

“I think that, maybe, in the next game against Norwich he could be available and in contention,” Conte said.

“If he continues in this way then why not? He’s not ready 100 per cent but he could start to help us.”

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