Tottenham boss Antonio Conte has again declined the chance to confirm he will be at the club next season, despite branding speculation linking him with the Paris St Germain job as “fake news”.
Conte said reports in France and Italy this week suggesting he was interested in replacing Mauricio Pochettino at the Ligue 1 club were “lies”, but would not commit his future to Spurs.
Instead, he will wait until the outcome of a meeting with chairman Daniel Levy and managing director of football Fabio Paratici at the end of the season to determine the “best solution”.
That appears to hinge on whether Spurs are willing to match his ambition of challenging for the top honours and Conte made it clear he has no desire for another battle just to get into the top four.
Conte has been questioned many times already on whether he would be at the club next season and is remaining steadfast.
“I think that in this moment it’s important to be focused. I’ve been asked this many times and I’ve already answered,” he said.
“If you go back, my answer is always the same and my answer is still the same, to have another answer is not useful for anyone.
“I always answered this question in the past. My opinion didn’t change, my thoughts didn’t change, my ambition didn’t change. I am the same.
“At the end of the season we speak with the club but with pleasure, in a really good way. To speak and try to find the best solution for everybody.
“This has to be clear, this. I repeat – don’t forget I like to have ambition, not only to fight for a place in Champions League or a place in the Europa League. I think that, honestly, I want to fight for much more, you understand? For much more. I think also I deserve to do this.
“What are our ambitions for the future? It would be very important, because I think that I deserve to try to fight for and to win trophies and to fight for something important, not for only sixth or seventh, eighth place, or if you have a fantastic season, fourth place. Only this.
“But I repeat this is my ambition and it is important to understand and fully match the ambition at the time that we need it.”
It is unlikely that, no matter what assurances he gets from the club, Spurs will be in a position to challenge Manchester City or Liverpool for the title next season.
So another key factor will be whether the 52-year-old Italian – a manager who has not remained at previous clubs for an extended period – has the patience for a long-term project.
“I repeat it will be very important to understand how much time we need to fight for something important if we have the patience to wait because for sure this is a process,” added Conte, whose side are currently fifth in the Premier League ahead of Sunday’s visit of Leicester.
“I always say to you that we need time and patience. And we have to understand how much time we need and how much patience we have.
“This is the only focus no, the focus, no? We have to understand this and to understand if we can match my opinion and club opinion.
“I repeat I am enjoying a lot to work here. I have a fantastic relationship with all the people who work here and with Daniel Levy our chairman and Fabio Paratici and for this reason it is right to at the end (of the season) to have a good meeting, a private meeting, and to try to find the best solution for everybody.”
Joining PSG in the summer would certainly give him the chance to challenge for silverware, but Conte says there is nothing in that speculation.
The former Chelsea, Juventus and Inter Milan boss said: “Obviously I think that it’s good that other clubs appreciate my work. This is one thing. But the truth is that I don’t like it when people try to invent news – only to speak, only to create problems.
“This is not right, not fair for me, for the clubs involved and for my players.
“But I think that also the people that want to tell something about this have to show respect for all the people involved in this situation, and not invent fake news and tell a lot of lies.
“In this situation, who works in football – players or managers – know very well that at this point of the season, a lot of fake news starts to go out.”