Transfer Rumours: Koulibaly to Man City, Costa & Donnarumma to PSG, Zaniolo to Spurs & More

Rumours, you gotta love ’em. And we’ve got quite the transfer kitty today.

From Manchester United maybe but probably not signing [insert literally any player] to Manchester City probably not (but maybe?) signing Kalidou Koulibaly (you know, the Napoli centre back who United also really want but won’t get), it’s all here. 

Go on, indulge yourself in the ne’er ending possibilities.


Aston Villa Looking to Land Axel Tuanzebe for £8m

Mason Bennett,Axel Tuanzebe

After a successful spell on loan last season, Aston Villa are desperate to bring in Manchester United defender Axel Tuanzebe on a permanent basis.

According to the Daily Mail, the Villans want to tie up an £8m deal for the 21-year-old, if possible. However, it’s understood that United are a bit reticent to lose the England Under-21 international at this juncture, and would prefer it if the centre back, who can also play at right back, popped back to Birmingham for another loan. 

This is because, and don’t be surprised, United need full backs. No, Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian just won’t cut it anymore, which is why, as per Calciomercato, they’re in for Napoli’s Elseid Hysaj, because, well, for some reason, Carlo Ancelotti still wants Kieran Trippier.


Barcelona & Valencia Agree Swap Deal for Cillessen & Neto

Jasper Cillessen

Barcelona and Valencia are set to complete a straight swap involving goalkeepers Jasper Cillessen and Neto, with both being valued at around €30m.

According to Mundo Deportivo, Cillessen is set to bring in roughly the same wahe as he did at the Nou Camp, while the 29-year-old Brazilian, who left Juventus and the shadow of Gianluigi Buffon in 2017 for increased gametime, will be rewarded for returning to the bench with a salary that should at least double his current earnings. 


Koulibaly to Manchester City Rumours Shut Down

Kalidou Koulibaly

A myriad of publications have recently been reporting a Manchester City bid of £85m for Napoli’s much-coveted Senegalese centre back Kalidou Koulibaly, following on from a purported €80m offer from Real Madrid.

The thing is, at least when it comes to the Citizens, and at least per the Telegraph‘s James Ducker, it’s not actually true. The Manchester correspondent revealed on Twitter, in no uncertain terms, that, as it happens, ‘City are not after Koulibaly’. 

That settles that, then. Or does it? And so begins another needless transfer saga (maybe).


Douglas Costa Confirms He Wants to Stay at Juve Despite PSG Interest

Douglas Costa

Speedster and spitter extraordinaire, Douglas Costa is a wanted man this summer. As such, meetings will be had, business discussed. Which is where business experts Paris Saint-Germain come in.

According to France Football, as relayed by Get French Football News, Costa’s representatives met with PSG’s suits in the last 24 hours, in the hopes of taking the 28-year-old Brazilian to the Parc des Princes. However, in a brief but telling interview with ​Calciomercato, Costa affirmed his desire to stay at Juve:

“Future? I have others three years of contract with Juventus and I am convinced to stay. Now everything is new with the coach and I will stay here.”


De Gea Left in the Cold as PSG Turn to £60m-Rated Donnarumma

Gianluigi Donnarumma

Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea has been left in the dirt, bereaving his contractual bargaining chip, after reports (emanating from the Sun) revealed that Paris Saint-Germain have turned their attention to AC Milan’s Gianluigi Donnarumma. 

Having been initially willing to test United’s resolve with a £60m bid, PSG have re-signed sporting director Leonardo Araujo from Milan, who is none to keen on bringing in the Spanish custodian, preferring instead the boy-mountain from Italy, who would cost the same amount.

With Real Madrid still persevering with Thibaut Courtois, this leaves De Gea in a sticky spot, in that he’ll probably have to stick around at Old Trafford. Sad times. 


Hornets in Talks to Sign PSV Eindhoven’s Gaston Pereiro

Gaston Pereiro

Watford have entered into discussions with the agent of PSV Eindhoven midfielder Gaston Pereiro, with the 24-year-old possessing just a year left on his contract with the Dutch side. 

According to the Watford Observer, Pereiro was initially offered to AC Milan, but his agent has decided to skip the gothic cathedrals and fountains for sunny Hertfordshire. Reports from the Netherlands have helpfully stated that the fee required will be a ‘double-digit number of millions’, though, thankfully, Gianluca Di Marzio has also had his say, with an estimate of £18m, which would be highly reasonable.


Roma Slap £63m Price Tag on Tottenham Target Nicolo Zaniolo

Nicolo Zaniolo

Roma have slapped a £63m price tag on the shoulders of Italy Under-21 starlet Nicolo Zaniolo, in an attempt to ward off considerable interest from Tottenham. 

According to Sky Italia, La Lupa will not settle for anything less than that figure for Zaniolo this summer, as they are determined to keep the playmaker in their grasp. It will likely to be too steep a climb for Spurs, who prefer the cut of Tanguy Ndombele and Giovanni Lo Celso’s jibs, both of whom would demand similar fees.


Crystal Palace Interested in £7m Santos Defender Lucas Verissimo

Lucas Verissimo

Not satisfied with resting on their Premier League survival laurels, Crystal Palace are looking to kick on this summer, in hopes of a greater season in 2019/20. 

A big part of this revamp could be Santos centre half Lucas Verissimo, who is considered one of the most promising defenders in South America. Handily, as per Futebol Interior, the 23-year-old could be available for as little as £7m. ​Noice. 


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Assessing Where Paul Pogba Should Be Playing His Football in 2019/20

Paul Pogba’s Manchester United future is hanging very finely in the balance, with the French midfielder making no secret of the fact that he could be on the move this summer, three years on from his Old Trafford return.

He understandably has plenty of suitors who would all be interested in snapping him up, but it appears that Real Madrid and Juventus are the strongest two candidates – with a stay at United still potentially being on the cards.

With that in mind, here’s an assessment of where ​Pogba should be playing his football next season.


How He Fits In

Manchester United​

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer,Paul Pogba

It doesn’t take a footballing expert to understand that Pogba is the star of the show at ​Manchester United – a position he has held ever since he triumphantly returned to the Red Devils back in 2016. Irrespective of their tactical approach or overarching footballing philosophy, if Pogba is fit then Pogba always has to feature.

However, he hasn’t ever been able to consistently reach the level of performance expected of a player with his sort of reputation, with his alarming dip in form at the back end of the 2018/19 season demonstrating that, when things aren’t necessarily going his way, he struggles to raise his game accordingly.  

His World Cup performances with France demonstrated that he hasn’t lost his touch, so something is clearly wrong at United and it’s unlikely to change anytime soon. 

Real Madrid

FBL-ESP-LIGA-RAYO-REAL MADRID

In many respects, ​Real Madrid’s 2018/19 campaign was even more disastrous than Manchester United’s, with plenty of previously reliable players failing to reach the same heights as years gone by. The likes of Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric all flattered to deceive for Los Blancos, which opens the door for a marquee signing to line up in midfield next season. If recent reports are to be believed, then that player could easily be Pogba.

He’s exactly the sort of midfielder Real Madrid are crying out for – at least when he is in top form – as they don’t currently possess anyone whose technical ability is matched by their athleticism. If Real are to install a fresh brand of bombastic, attacking football, then Pogba could easily be the man to help deliver it.

Juventus

Maurizio Sarri

​Juventus currently have a multi-talented squad at their disposal that have been irrepressibly dominant in Italy over the past few seasons, but that doesn’t mean they can afford to stand still this summer. They’ve already brought in Maurizio Sarri to take over the reins, so it remains to be seen how the Italian will stamp his authority on the squad. 

We know that he likes to have a passing technician at the base of a midfield three, with his other midfielders doing the leg work in the channels. Pogba could certainly fit in, but he doesn’t necessarily jump out as the sort of player Sarri would want to have to deal with – especially as he fell out with a number of high profile players during his ill-fated spell with Chelsea.

Evaluation

Overall, Pogba is most likely to fit in at Real Madrid, given the fact that Los Blancos are currently desperate to bolster their current midfield options. United also have their eye on Bruno Fernandes and Tanguy Ndombele as potential Pogba replacements and Maurizio Sarri may have serious reservations over an approach for the 26-year-old.


Future of Respective Club

Manchester United

Ed Woodward

Manchester United were at ‘crisis’ point about 200 times in 2018/19 and they finished the season in a lowly sixth position, light years behind Premier League pace setters Manchester City and Liverpool. Big changes are expected this summer and a squad overhaul is on the cards – raising questions over Pogba’s position at the club.

The Red Devils are going to have to raise some funds from somewhere if they are to afford the countless players they have already been linked to and selling Pogba, who remains their most valuable asset, seems like the most logical decision for both parties.

Real Madrid

FBL-ESP-BEL-REAL MADRID

Real Madrid don’t respond to failure lightly. In fact, Los Blancos have been the busiest club in Europe so far this summer, having already confirmed five big money signings – including Eden Hazard and Luka Jovic. That signals serious intent for next season and, while it may initially be difficult to gel together a cohesive unit, Real could have an incredibly talented squad at their disposal.

It must be noted, however, that Real Madrid are an utterly bonkers club and they don’t exactly have a brilliant track record of getting things right behind the scenes.There is every chance that they will continue to spend as much money as they are physically able to, only to fall well short of Barcelona again next season. It could be a risky move on Pogba’s part.

Juventus

FBL-ITA-SERIEA-JUVENTUS-ATALANTA

Stability is one of Juventus’ biggest strengths. It could be argued that they lack genuine opposition in Italy, but the fact that they have utterly dominated the domestic scene over the past few years indicates that I Bianconeri know exactly what they are doing.

If Pogba joins Juventus, then he’ll be moving to a club which can guarantee silverware and that isn’t something either of the other two clubs can offer – for the time being at least. Juventus don’t necessarily have an ageing squad who won’t be able to sustain success either, with youngsters such as Moise Kean and Rodrigo Bentancur indicating that the future is seriously bright.

Evaluation

Juventus are the most stable of the three and their recent rack record exemplifies the fact that they know how to win – even if they have fallen short on the European scene. United are understandably looking to start from scratch (how that goes remains to be seen) and Real are, well, Real.


Personal Brand

Manchester United

FBL-ENG-PR-MAN UTD-CARDIFF

We’ve heard it all before. Pogba is the most marketable player in the world. But how much longer can he remain the most marketable player in the world, while he continues to disappoint for a team that no longer holds the same global stature as they did a few years ago?

A move away from Old Trafford makes sense for a lot of reasons, with his commercial interests being one of the most prominent.

Real Madrid

FBL-ESP-FRA-REAL MADRID

Real remain the highest revenue generating team in football, so it’s easy to see what Pogba would stand to gain if he opted to make the switch from Manchester to Madrid this summer. 

We’ve already seen the sort of attention Hazard has received since he joined Los Blancos and it’s easy to see Pogba’s arrival being treated with even more fanfare. Of course, his brand (and ego) don’t need to grow any further, but you can be sure that it would.

Juventus

Paul Pogba

It would be very interesting to see what would happen if Pogba does make a return to Juventus, as the club, while being undeniably influential, don’t necessarily sit in that top bracket of marketable sides.

Last year’s arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo did help to change that, but it’s hard to see the Portuguese superstar hanging around for too much longer. Moving to United from Juventus was seen as a step up, so would the same be the case if the roles were reversed?

Evaluation

Real are the clear winners in this area, as Pogba’s United relationship is faltering and Juventus aren’t able to command the same sort of financial influence as Los Blancos.


Overall

Based on squad options, future plans and marketability, Real Madrid appear to be the best option on offer for Pogba – though that can of course all change over the coming months.

Pogba’s future will remain uncertain right up until a definitive decision is made either way, so expect to witness plenty of twists and turns before the summer is up.

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Paul Pogba Set to Pocket Huge ‘Loyalty Bonus’ at Man Utd Despite Pushing for Move Away From the Club

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba is set to earn a hefty £3.78m loyalty bonus, despite revealing his desire for a new challenge amid constant links to Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Juventus.

Speaking in Japan over the weekend, Pogba admitted his desire to up sticks from Old Trafford, declaring: “After this season and everything that happened, with my season being my best season, it could be a good time to have a new challenge somewhere else.”

Paul Pogba

Yet, despite this revelation, according to reports from the Daily Mail, the Frenchman is still set to receive a ‘loyalty bonus’ of £3.78m on July 1st, as per the terms of his contract – an increase from the £3.46m he received last summer as part of the same arrangement. 

Of course, there is the possibility of Pogba leaving Manchester before then, though this seems unlikely, with United insisting that the player will stay with them for next season, and the rumour mongers uncertain as to where his ideal destination would be. 

According to Italian football journalists Gianluca Di Marzio and Romeo Agresti, the World Cup-winner’s preferred ‘new challenge’ is in fact a return to former club Juventus. 

As per Di Marzio, Pogba would rather play for Juve than Real Madrid next season, with Agresti affirming that the Old Lady are pushing hard for a deal with the Red Devils, who themselves are holding out for £150m. 

However, the greater financial stumbling block could come with the salary, with ​Pogba desperate to continue to be paid a €15m-a-year wage. 

One team who probably would not have such doubts over reaching those figures are Paris Saint-Germain who, as per the Sun, are readying a bid for the 26-year-old as we speak. Though little has been mentioned regarding the player’s desire to make the move back to France, Mino Raiola’s ties to the Parisian giants could increase their odds.

According to Marca, Madrid – who have already had a £90m offer rejected and remain the consensus favourites – are desperate to get a deal over the line for Zinedine Zidane, and have set a deadline for the transfer of July 1st, a week before their pre-season tour begins. 

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Transfer Rumours: Herrera’s Next Move, Maguire Latest, Sarr to Newcastle or Watford & More

There’s the Women’s World Cup and the Copa America providing drama by the bucket. The Africa Cup of Nations starts soon, so does the Under-21 Euros, but we know what you really want. It’s #thegoss.

Ok then, strap in and get your corneas around this lot of rumours featuring the likes of Ander Herrera, Ismaila Sarr, Adrien Rabiot…and even Terence Kongolo. Phwoar.


Ander Herrera PSG Move in Doubt Amid Atleti Interest

FBL-ENG-PR-MAN UTD-CHELSEA

Remember when Ander Herrera was definitely signing for Paris Saint-Germain? Well, now it seems like he’s more of a maybe.

The soon-to-be ex-Manchester United midfielder was seemingly Paris-bound last month, but the reports of an imminent deal cooled. ​Paris United (those ITKs who broke all the good Mbappe and Neymar stuff) add now that Atleti boss Diego Simeone ‘loves’ Herrera.

La Decisión (hey maybe there’s a documentary in this?) is in Ander’s handers. 

Could he do a Juan Mata and perform a handbrake U-ey and still stay at United? Probs not, nah. He already did a ​goodbye message with a subtle dig at Steven Gerrard, remember? 


Man Utd Try to Sweeten Maguire Deal With Pereira Bait

Harry Maguire

Sticking with United (cos 90% of the news in this transfer window is about them, let’s face facts), Ed Woodward has a genius solution for getting Harry Maguire to Old Trafford without paying silly money.

According to ​The Sun, United are willing to throw one mint-condition, barely used Andreas Pereira (ahem, on loan) into the bargain to lower Hazza Maguazza’s £90m price tag. 

Exactly how much they expect that tempting little morsel to lower the price, The Sun don’t speculate but they do note that Brendan Rodgers loves a bit of Pereira having tried to bring him to Celtic back in the day.

United haven’t had much luck with centre-back pursuits of late having been quoted £75m for West Ham’s Issa Diop and been used as a pawn by real-life Cersei Lannister, Mino Raiola, in the never-ending saga for Matthijs de Ligt.

If Maguire doesn’t come off, expect a £150m deadline day bid to bring back Jonny Evans.


Aston Villa Move for Terence Kongolo and James Justin

Terence Kongolo

But what’s happening at Aston Villa you cry? Well, I’m glad you asked.

As reward for their heroics earning promotion back to the Premier League, Villa are ready to ditch several of the stars that got them there and fork out for expensive upgrades. Cheers lads.

The ​Mail say Villa want 25-year-old centre back Terence Kongolo from Huddersfield while the ​Star tout £10m-rated James Justin from Luton, to join newbies Kortney Hause, Jota, Anwar El Ghazi and Wesley Moraes who’ve already made permanent moves.


Napoli Star Rejects Wolves in Favour of Roma

Amadou Diawara,Diadia Samassekou

Staying in the Midlands, ​Sky Sport Italia says that Napoli midfielder Amadou Diawara has ‘rejected’ a move to Wolves and is instead waiting for Roma to call. 

I mean, I can’t say I blame him.

While that’s rubbish news for Nuno and co. it’s intriguing for Napoli, who also happen to want Roma’s Kostas Manolas and could try to use Diawara as bait.

However, word on the street is that Roma want any suitors for Manolas (another of the 50 or so defenders linked to Man Utd in the past year) to pay his full buyout clause of €36m.

€36m? You couldn’t get Maguire’s forehead for that.


Southampton Close in on £14m Adams Deal

Che Adams

Dropping down to the south coast (after a brief sojourn to Naples), Southampton look to be about to sign a new striker… and one who actually scores goals!

The Telegraph claim that the Saints are ‘expected’ to pay £14m to complete a deal for Birmingham frontman Che Adams, having already seen at least two bids rejected.

22-year-old Adams scored 22 times in 43 starts in the Championship in 2018/19 – the kind of numbers that make Shane Long shed a tear. Burnley and Everton have also been linked but Southampton’s haste appears to have won them the day.

Adams will be the second signing completed under Ralph ‘don’t call me rabbit hutch’ Hasenhuttl after the £14m deal for Moussa Djenepo from Standard Liege.


Watford See Bid Rejected for Newcastle Target Ismaila Sarr

FBL-FRA-LIGUE 1-RENNES-GUINGAMP

In other forward-related news, both Watford and Newcastle are slugging it out for Rennes star Ismaila Sarr.

The former have already seen a €30m bid knocked back, while the latter are contemplating upping the ante, according to ​L’Equipe.

21-year-old Sarr is in Egypt with Senegal for the Africa Cup of Nations, after an impressive season in Ligue 1.

Whether Newcastle actually submit a bid north of £27m surely depends on whether:
​a) This takeover actually happens

b) Mike Ashley is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future.


Pochettino ‘Phones’ Lo Celso Amid Spurs Transfer Interest 

FBL-EUR-C1-TOTTENHAM-LIVERPOOL

After two windows of transfer-window abstinence, Spurs are ready to spaff the cash once again, but only within reason and depending on sales, of course. 

Real Betis star Giovani Lo Celso is one the big targets for Tottenham this summer, with a number of reports already outlining their interest in the Argentine player, who (remarkably) has never knowingly been labelled the ‘new Messi’.

Lo Celso has an £89m release clause but rumour has it the Andalusians might entertain bids of substantially south of that. Man Utd (shock) have also been linked, but a report from ​El Confidencial claims that Mauricio Pochettino has been on the phone to his countryman to explain his interest.

The caveat is that they can’t pay big (not over £35m) unless say, I dunno, a certain Danish midfielder is sold for big bucks.


Newcastle Eye Up Venezuelan Star at Copa America

Miguel Trauco,Jefferson Savarino

According to ​Sky Sports, Newcastle are looking at Venezuela star (no, not Salomon Rondon, sorry) Jefferson Savarino, who plays his football out in the States for Real Salt Lake.

The playmaker is apparently available for just £6m (‘that’s more like it’, cries Ashley somewhere), with scouts set to watch him against Brazil in the Copa America on Wednesday.

Newcastle, who have a thing for South American MLS stars, are joined by West Ham in their interest in the 22-year-old winger.

Savarino has scored 13 times in 57 appearances in two-and-a-bit seasons in Major League Soccer.


Kovacic Has Heart Set on Inter Return

Mateo Kovacic,Maurizio Sarr

Mateo Kovacic won’t be at Chelsea next season after a bit of a dud of a year for the Europa League winners in 2018/19. 

He is unlikely to stick around with parent club Real Madrid either and has his heart set on a move back to former employers Inter, according to Corriere Dello Sport (via ​CalcioMercato).

The claim is that even if Nicolo Barella arrives at San Siro, Inter will still be able to afford Kovacic, while the Croatian midfielder is willing to go out on loan initially to secure his dream return to the club he represented between 2013 and 2015.


Adrien Rabiot Closes in on Big-Money Juventus Deal

FBL-EUR-C1-PSG-TRAINING

And finally, it wouldn’t be a gossip roundup without a ‘bomba’ from ​El Chringuito…What you saying Josep Pedrerol and the lads?

You’re saying that magnificently maned PSG super sulker Adrien Rabiot is going to Juventus with a €10m signing-on bonus and wages of €7m a year on a five-year deal? Lovely, that’ll do nicely.

Hasta mañana.


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Antonio Conte: An Astute Tactician Whose Perfectionist Philosophy Reinvented the 3-5-2 Wheel

Antonio Conte is number 44 in 90min’s Top 50 Great Managers of All Time series. Follow the rest of the series over the course of the next 10 weeks. 


Winning a league title as a manager is hard.

Retaining a league title as manager is even harder.

Moving abroad and replicating that success in a league you are unfamiliar is harder still.

Winning that league at the first time of asking – that’s special.

Antonio Conte

So that is perhaps how we should best describe Antonio Conte. Special.

A fiery, passionate and iron willed central midfielder, Conte has enjoyed a lengthy career at the top of the game – spending the majority of his playing career patrolling the midfield of Juventus to great success.

Under the guidance of legendary managers Marcello Lippi, Giovanni Trapattoni and Carlo Ancelotti, he probably picked up a thing or two en-route to winning multiple Scudetto titles, a Champions League and UEFA Cup, as well as a glutful of Supercoppa Italiana crowns.

Known now as one of the most tactically shrewd managers of the current era, Conte was pretty handy on the field too. You usually have something about you when you make almost 300 Serie A appearances for Juventus alone.

His boundless energy and industrious playing style went largely unrewarded on the international stage, however, with competition for places in Italy’s midfield during the mid to late 1990s. 

By the turn of the millennium, Conte had forced his way back to the Azzurri’s first team reckoning – scoring in a Euro 2000 qualifier against Denmark, before his more artistic style was painted in the tournament itself – in the form of a bicycle kick against Turkey in Italy’s opening group game.

Antonio Conte

Injury would force him out of the quarter-final win over Romania, and Conte’s international exploits ended there. Only as a player mind you.

Retirement from the game four years later led to his first off-field role, serving as assistant manager at Siena to Luigi De Canio.

A first managerial appointment followed at Serie B side Arezzo soon after, but Conte’s two spells (he was sacked before being re-appointed) at the club ended in misery and relegation to the third tier of Italian football.

Determined to put that setback behind him, Conte next took charge of Bari in Serie B – assuming control with I Galletti struggling in the lower reaches of the table. It didn’t take him long to turn their fortunes around and by the end of the season, they had comfortably secured a place in mid-table.

It’s from here that Conte’s managerial career began to take off. Playing an expansive brand of football that was often perceived as an attacking 4-2-4 formation, Conte encouraged his wingers to push up on the full-back at any given opportunity.

Antonio Conte

This subtle tactical tweak led the club to promotion by way of winning Serie B – four points ahead of nearest challengers Parma, and a whopping 12 points ahead of third-placed Livorno.

Rumours surfaced that Conte would be approached to take over at former club Juventus, but he initially pledged his loyalty to Bari – only to see the offer of a new contract rescinded. He joined Atalanta as a result, but didn’t stay long, enduring a fractious relationship with the club’s fanbase.

A return to Serie B with Siena, whom he had assisted at the started of his coaching career, brought a second promotion to Serie A and finally landed Conte the job he had been waiting for – a return to Turin with Juventus.

It’s there that Conte honed his craft, and became regarded as one of the most tactically astute managers in the current game.

Not afraid to experiment, Conte frequently changed formations and approach during the early stages of his Juventus stint. Keen to find a system that best suited his high-pressing, relentless work-rate mentality, he finally adopted a 3-5-2 formation – sparking a return to prominence for a system that, at the time. was largely discarded at the highest level of the game.

Antonio Conte,Leonardo Bonucci

In settling on this formation, Conte helped Juventus master a new identity that would form the backbone of what has gone to become an unprecedented era of Serie A dominance for La Vecchia Signora.

Three sturdy centre-backs, typically in the form of Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci, formed the backbone to his team.

Wing-backs, who scampered up and down the line for 90 minutes operated as attacking wide midfielders in possession, before tucking in to form a compact back five when under pressure.


Career Honours

​Serie B (2008/09)
Serie A (2011/12, 2012/13, 2013/14)​
​Supercoppa Italiana 2012, 2012
​Premier League 2016/17
Premier League Manager of the Season 2016/17
​LMA Manager of the Year 2016/17
​FA Cup 2017/18

The midfield core was equally as important and hinged on the talents of the mercurial Andrea Pirlo. Playing at the base of midfield, his deep-lying playmaker role allowed for more expansive contributions from Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio, as well as Paul Pogba a year later.

Adopting a higher press up the pitch, Conte’s Juventus team stifled their opposition and enjoyed vast swathes of possession in the majority of their matches. Soon, he had his players unwavering support and the rewards were soon reaped by the Old Lady.

Three successive Serie A titles, the third with an unprecedented record points tally of 102, and two Supercoppa Italiana crowns made their way onto Conte’s mantelpiece, laying the foundations of a winning mentality in Turin.

Antonio Conte


“The fans in the Matthew Harding Stand spent the second half bellowing Antonio Conte’s name, making it perfectly clear that they have a new hero at Stamford Bridge.” Jacob Steinberg, The Guardian (November 2016)


Some five years later, Juventus are yet to surrender their crown – though Conte would play no further part in the club’s journey after opting to resign in May 2014, having failed to conquer in a similar vein on the European stage.

A turbulent two-year spell in charge of the Italian national team followed, before he was thrust back into the furnace of club management – taking the reins in 2016 at trigger happy Chelsea, who had steamrolled their way through 11 managers since Roman Abramovich took charge of the club in 2003.

His tenure began with a narrow win over West Ham, but soon he was under the cosh after a dismal performance at Arsenal resulted in an embarrassing 3-0 defeat at the Emirates Stadium – a week after losing to Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.

Conte went back to what he knew, and revamped the Blues’ style of play – introducing his now famed 3-5-2 formation to devastating effect.

Soon, Chelsea had turned things around and set a new club record of 11 consecutive league wins in a row. By the turn of the year, they were six points clear of Liverpool at the top of the table and on course to win the title – with their playing style and absolute domination earning plaudits from all around.

Relentless in his pursuit of success, Conte refused to let his players take their foot off the gas. They lifted Premier League title at the conclusion of the season – beating neighbourhood rivals Tottenham to the punch by seven points, racking up 93 points after lying eighth in the league at the end of September – six points behind Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.

Antonio Conte


You have got to be good at everything. You have got to try and excel at everything. To do this you have got to study and since I became a coach, for me, it has been continuous study.” Antonio Conte.


It was a far cry from the dismal league campaign that Chelsea had endured the season before. Defending their fourth Premier League crown, won under Jose Mourinho, the Blues had seemed outdated, past it and a shadow of their former selves as they mustered a 10th place finish.

Now, under Conte and working with a near identical squad of players, they were winners again. The heavily criticised David Luiz became an instant star as he assumed the role of ball-playing defender, whilst N’Golo Kante continued his rise to superstardom at the base of midfield. Eden Hazard flourished under the guidance of Conte, and like him or loathe him, Diego Costa was near impossible to handle up front.

Sadly, the wheels came off somewhat in Conte’s second season. 

A frosty relationship with Costa led to a highly publicised feud, and the Italian boss appeared at odds with the club too. These off-the-field shenanigans dented Chelsea’s hopes of defending their title, and the now distant Italian could only steer his side to a fifth-placed finish, some 23 points off the pace they had set the previous season.

Not even a FA Cup triumph, in what turned out to be Conte’s last game in charge, could bring much of a smile to his face. 

What is undisputed, though, is his legacy in English football alone. 

He may have only graced these shores for two seasons, but Conte’s introduction of playing three at the back was soon adopted by almost every other Premier League side – a testament to how difficult his side were to play against.

Now, he’s about to embark on a new journey in Italy – where he’ll hope his organised and disciplined methods can help the Nerazzurri break Juventus’ stranglehold over Italian football.


Number 50: Marcelo Bielsa – El Loco’s Journey From Argentina to Footballing Immortality in Europe

Number 49: Vic Buckingham – How an Englishman Discovered Johan Cruyff & Pioneered Total Football

Number 48: Claudio Ranieri: A Ridiculed Tinkerman Who Masterminded One of Football’s Greatest Ever Achievements

Number 47: Bill Nicholson: Mr Tottenham Hotspur, the First Double Winning Manager of the 20th Century

Number 46: Sven-Goran Eriksson: The Scudetto Winning Shagger Who Never Solved the Lampard-Gerrard Conundrum

Number 45: ​Sir Alf Ramsey: The Man Behind the ‘Wingless Wonders’ & England’s Sole World Cup Triumph


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