TOTTENHAM are closing in on Antonio Conte after hitting a brick wall in their bid to bring back ex-boss Mauricio Pochettino.
Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has been battling to seal Poch’s return from Paris Saint-Germain after he told them he wanted to return to N17.
Antonio Conte is set to be named as the new Tottenham boss after Spurs failed to land Mauricio PochettinoCredit: Reuters
But with the Argentinean so far unable to engineer his exit from the French giants and less than a month to go before the North Londoners start pre-season training, Levy is edging closer to appointing Conte.
The Spurs supremo, searching for a new manager since axing Jose Mourinho in April, is believed to want a new man in charge by the end of next week.
He is said to be lining up one last push for Pochettino, but if that fails he will be forced to look elsewhere, with Conte the favourite to come in.
Levy has been in talks with the former Chelsea chief, who is a free agent after leaving Inter Milan last month.
But Conte is believed to want assurances about transfer funds and the future of striker Harry Kane – who told Tottenham he wants to leave this summer.
Spurs fans, dreaming of a Pochettino return after he turned them into top-four regulars and 2019 Champions League finalists, may not be entirely happy about the appointment of another former Chelsea boss.
Former Italy coach Conte took over at Stamford Bridge in 2016 and led them to the Premier League title in his first season in charge – before winning the FA Cup the following year.
Italian gaffer Conte won the Premier League and FA Cup during his spell at ChelseaCredit: PA
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He joined Inter in 2019 and this season guided them to their first Serie A title in 11 years before his departure last week.
He is now being linked with the Tottenham vacancy, despite Levy insisting he wanted to appoint an “attacking and entertaining” manager who would make full use of emerging talent in the club’s academy – attributes not associated with Conte.
Reports in Italy also claim Spurs want to bring in former Juventus sporting director Fabio Paratici who has previously worked with Conte.
Pochettino only took over at PSG in January but is said to have already fallen out with sporting director Leonardo after failing to win Ligue 1 and the Champions League this season.
Levy was hoping to capitalise on the situation by reappointing Pochettino, who managed Tottenham from May 2014 to November 2019.
But Leonardo insisted last night: “The rumours around Pochettino are tiring. I speak with him every day to prepare for next season.
“He has two years of contract and we are very happy with his work.”
PSG, despite those comments, would be willing to let flop Poch leave – but not until they have lined up his replacement.
Ex-Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane and current France coach Didier Deschamps are the favourites to take over – but they would not be available until after Euro 2020.
And with preparations for the new campaign well underway at Tottenham, Levy cannot afford to wait that long before bringing in a new boss.