Antonio Conte came real close to being appointed Tottenham Hotspur's new manager last week. It's a fascinating development when you consider only two weeks ago the Italian manager chose to part ways with Inter Milan because he was not convinced by the club's project despite being crowned Serie A champions in 2020-21.
Conte might not be the only key piece from Inter forced to part ways with as the club deals with some financially turbulent times. Achraf Hakimi is a player on the possible list of departures as he is appreciated by Chelsea and especially PSG. Conte was not satisfied with the vision of the Inter board, led by the Chinese group Suning Holdings. Conte is considered by many as a "serial winner" and whichever club seeks his services must have a clear and defined project in place, otherwise he will take a break as we witnessed with Inter.
His future will depend on the project and his demand for maximum transparency presented by his suitors. Real Madrid never had an in-depth conversation with him. Club chairman Florentino Perez leaned on Carlo Ancelotti after the possibility of appointing Massimiliano Allegri faded due to the timing of Zinedine Zidane's departure. Tottenham, on the other hand, made a serious push for Conte and his representatives in direct contact with the board and with club owner Daniel Levy, who is ever-present in the decision-making process.
So how close was Conte to joining Spurs? He initially accepted the club's dialogue favorably because he was tempted by the challenge of leading a club that has not lifted a major trophy for over a decade. The Italian manager's resume speaks for itself: He brought Inter back to the promised land in Italy after an 11-year drought, before that he won the Premier League with Chelsea in his first season, and at Juventus he took charge of a team that was seventh in the table and then led them to a Serie A three-peat.
There were plenty of hurdles -- not just one -- that kept the two sides from reaching an agreement in the negotiating process.
The first was linked to Tottenham's project. From Conte's Premier League experience, he well aware that the top-tier clubs are absolutely better equipped to win, so as a result he demanded important investments this summer and for power in decisions on roles and new signings.
That's Conte's preferred way to start a new project and to win in the long run.
Of course, it's easy to imagine that he had hopes of keeping Harry Kane. Furthermore, Tottenham denied Conte's request to bring all his staff members who had done an extraordinary job at Inter and followed him everywhere else. They only gave the green light for four members, so the two sides were left at odds on that particular hurdle. Finally and most importantly, there was a difference of approximately €3 million (roughly $3.65 million) between the salary offered by Tottenham and requested by Conte.
Spurs really wanted Conte and tried in every way to convince him. Fabio Paratici, who will become the new football director of Tottenham, also tried. Paratici just left Juventus as the sporting director and was alongside Conte in those three years in Turin. He will arrive at Tottenham despite Conte's refusal and will be in charge of the technical area. Levy will continue his search for another manager after being really close to locking up Conte. There is great disappointment in the club but also the belief that an important solution on the manager front will soon be reached.
Conte, on the other hand, is now destined to remain on standby for a year, calmly deciding his next club. Barring surprises, therefore, Conte will take a sabbatical for a season and has already earned €5 million for his separation from Inter. And Tottenham are looking for their next manager.