Antonio Conte has delayed talks over extending his Chelsea contract until his side have secured the Premier League title in a bid to remove any distractions that could cause the league leaders to slip up over the final two months of the season.
According to The Times, Conte has asked Chelsea to put negotiations on hold until the title is in the bag, despite the Blues holding a 10-point lead over Tottenham with just 10 league matches left this season.
The Italian is determined to focus his and his squad’s attention on winning the title along with the FA Cup, but looks certain to agree a new deal that will extend his contract beyond the two years it has left to run.
But Chelsea would rather tie down his future sooner rather than later, along with a number of key players who repeatedly crop up on the transfer rumours mill with links to the likes of Real Madrid and city rivals Atletico.
Chelsea want Conte to agree a new deal due to the interest in him that is being shown by Inter Milan, according to ESPN, with the Serie A club hoping to capitalise on the fact that Conte’s family are yet to join him in London to lure him back to Italy. Inter have shown plenty of ambition since Suning Holdings Group, the Chinese company, took control of the Milan club, and they hope that Conte can be tempted back to his homeland due to the absence of his family.
The Blues are also looking to tie down Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and Thibaut Courtois to new deals in the process, with Real showing significant interest in the Belgian pair while Atletico are keen on re-signing Spain international Costa.
Both Hazard and Courtois have, like Conte, two years left to run on their contracts, but with Real showing clear intentions of making another statement signing in the summer, the club are willing to give them enhanced deals to keep them at Stamford Bridge for the foreseeable future.
The Costa situation is not as clear-cut though, with the Brazilian-born Spain striker looking destined for the exit come the end of the season, even though the club want to keep him. Atletico remain interested in the forward, despite Costa openly criticising them for not pressing hard enough last summer to force a move, while a big enough offer from China will also convince Chelsea into selling the 28-year-old.