Antonio Conte wants Chelsea to show him his 'real value' with improved contract offer with title win

The Blues could win the first half of their double on Friday night against West Brom

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The Independent Football

Antonio Conte is on the brink of winning the Premier League title and will leverage his achievements to get a new improved contract out of Chelsea this summer.

Conte knows that Internazionale want to tempt him back to Italy this summer with a substantial pay rise, news that has been raging in Italy all week. When asked about Inter at his press conference on Thursday, Conte did not explicitly rule it out, just reiterated that his focus is on the present, and the fact that he has two years left on his contract at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea do have pressing matters this week, with a game at West Bromwich Albion on Friday night that could confirm their title. If they win they will get an unassailable lead over Tottenham Hotspur at the top of the table.

But if Conte wins the league, and especially if he wins the double, then he will have earned an improvement on the £6.5million salary he agreed in the three-year deal he signed in 2016. He spelled out at his press conference that while he does not need the money, improved contracts are how clubs make players and coaches feel valued.

“Money is not important,” said Conte, “but money is important to understand the real value of a person.”

Conte has been playing and coaching at the top end of the professional game for more than 25 years so he is financially comfortable. But he explained that salaries convey value to individuals. Conte, like anyone, wants to feel valued, and he would certainly like Chelsea to make him feel more valued this summer. It has not escaped Conte’s attention that Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola and Arsene Wenger, all of whom he has comprehensively out-managed this season, all currently earn significantly more than him.

West Brom v Chelsea Premier League match preview

“When you reach this type of level, money could be important, but it is not [everything],” Conte said. “When you stay at this level, money only explains to you your value. It tells you your value. Money is important, but it is not everything.”

The chance of Conte walking out on Chelsea to go to Inter this summer are still slim. He has started to look for London schools for his daughter. But he does not want to make a formal public commitment on his future until it is secured by the club. Before then, Chelsea have a title to win and possibly a double.

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Conte hopes his side can wrap up the title race early against West Brom on Friday (Getty)

“It is not important for me,” he said of contract talk. “If, in the future, we decide to extend the contract, we will decide this. For me the most important thing now is to win. Then the future is important. I have two more years of contract, and it is important to win and write the history of this club with my players.”

Conte has written new Chelsea history this season by cleaning up the mess he inherited, turning Chelsea’s season around and taking them so close to the title. Conte said that it was a testament to their hard work and their willingness to “suffer” for him this season. It is “impossible”, in Conte’s words, to win a title with “suffering”.

“When you work very hard it is normal to suffer,” Conte explained. “I've never seen a player who, during hard work, doesn't suffer. I think that when you suffer you become stronger and then you are ready to face every situation, above all problematic situations during games.”

Chelsea faced some very problematic situations at the start of the season and Conte admitted some surprise that they have done as well as they have. “If you ask me, honestly, do you believe you'd fight to win the title in the first season, it's very difficult to answer this question,” he said. “Because we are building good foundations for this team, for the club. This is a transitional moment for the club, because when you lose players who wrote the history of this club... Ivanovic, Mikel, John Terry, also Oscar we lost this season, and didn't replace them, it means we must build good foundations.”

The turning point was the 3-0 defeat to Arsenal last September, which led to the switch to 3-4-3 and a remarkable 13-game winning streak which equalled the Premier League record.

“After that defeat I understood we had to change something in the tactical aspect and find the right solution, also to improve our tactical work,” Conte explained. “I saw my team improving game by game and increasing confidence in the work.” Conte pointed to the 4-0 defeat of Manchester United on 23 October, the 3-1 win at Manchester City on 3 December, and the 1-1 draw at Anfield on 31 January as the moments that showed him how far his team had improved, and that they could fight for the title.

“Until the end we have to fight to win this title,” Conte said. “Now there is a good opportunity because Tottenham's defeat [at West Ham on Friday] was, for us, a good opportunity to take three points and try to win the title before the end of the season. Now we have to take three points because, otherwise, we'll have to fight until the end.”

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