Antonio Conte: The Italian is a proven winner but arrives with plenty of baggage, so where next?

Just weeks after guiding Inter Milan to their first Serie A title in 11 years, mastermind Antonio Conte has walked out on the club after he became completely at odds with the board.

Conte enjoyed a brilliant two seasons at the San Siro, and put Inter firmly back on Europe’s map after ending Juventus’ nine-year dominance within Italy.

But as Inter reclaimed power in Serie A, proceedings were reaching boiling point behind the scenes and it was only a matter of time until he parted ways.

Antonio Conte changed Inter Milan's fortunes but it was always a rocky ride at the San Siro

Antonio Conte changed Inter Milan’s fortunes but it was always a rocky ride at the San Siro

The fiery Italian had become massively frustrated with the club’s lack of financial resources. He wanted to spend big in the upcoming transfer window to keep Inter at the top of Serie A but the Nerazzurri have for quite some time been feeling the effects of the Covid pandemic and are being forced to cash in on a number of stars.

Inter are required to bring their wage budget down by 20 per cent, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport, with the club needing to sell a host of players – generating around £86.5million – in order to stay afloat, something that infuriated Conte after meeting chief Steven Zhang.

So Conte subsequently decided to drop the bombshell and call it a day just moments after masterminding Inter’s route back to the big time after some difficult seasons. However, we shouldn’t be surprised in the slightest about Conte’s latest decision, having been on a war path with several of his former clubs down the years. 

Here, Sportsmail takes a look back at why it has turned sour for Conte at former clubs and what’s next for the passionate Italian… 

The fiery Italian manager walked away from Inter just weeks after sealing the Serie A crown

The fiery Italian manager walked away from Inter just weeks after sealing the Serie A crown

The fiery Italian manager walked away from Inter just weeks after sealing the Serie A crown

Bust-up with Bari president 

Conte’s fiery days as a manager really started off during his time at Bari between 2007 and 2009.

Just weeks after agreeing a new contract extension after securing Bari’s promotion to Serie A, the Italian’s time at the helm came to an abrupt end much to the surprise of everyone.

After guiding Bari to the Serie B crown during the 2008-09 season – his first major honour as a manager – Conte had subsequently been linked with the Juventus job.

But Conte wanted to continue his journey with Bari and have a go in Serie A, and there was even a press conference announcing his new contract with the club. 

But all of a sudden after a mysterious delay, Bari and Conte decided to part ways – with the Italian manager having lost patience with president Vincenzo Matarrese for refusing to put a formal deal in front of him.

Conte showed off his fiery side while at Bari, as he lost patience with the president for failing to offer him a new deal

Conte showed off his fiery side while at Bari, as he lost patience with the president for failing to offer him a new deal

Conte showed off his fiery side while at Bari, as he lost patience with the president for failing to offer him a new deal

And after the shock news of his departure, Conte also blamed the club’s directors for not sharing the same ideas that he had planned for Bari’s assault on Serie A.

‘I wanted to play in Serie A with my ideas: this is Conte,’ declared Conte. ‘The club was aware of what it would mean to wed my project, support my football idea, work with my staff, following exact methods of training.

‘Once the trust was not there anymore, I preferred to mutually cancel the contract. There was no more the agreement in the technical project, on which we had agreed just three weeks ago.’

So from the off, Conte wasn’t afraid to set out on a war path against his club’s owners and board if they weren’t pulling in the same direction, and in years gone by, that has continued to be the case.

Clashing with Atalanta’s Ultras 

Conte’s next managerial chapter turned nasty at Atalanta, and he lasted just five months at the club from September 2009 to January 2010.

Despite a good start to life as Atalanta boss, picking up nine points in his first five matches in charge, something just wasn’t quite right from the off.

And by November that year with the club struggling, the atmosphere around the club was hugely chaotic – leading to protests from local fans and friction between Conte and the club’s ultras.

During his time as Atalanta boss between 2009-10, Conte was at odds with the club's ultras

During his time as Atalanta boss between 2009-10, Conte was at odds with the club's ultras

During his time as Atalanta boss between 2009-10, Conte was at odds with the club’s ultras 

After a 2-0 home defeat by Napoli in January 2010, all hell broke loose and a furious mob of Atalanta ultras gathered outside the club’s stadium slinging accusations at their side. Several players faced up to the ultras in a bid to calm them down but that didn’t work, and they were then out for Conte’s head.

Atalanta convinced Conte to go outside and front up. After a couple of minutes of dialogue between both parties, the ultras turned on him and he was forced to receive police protection to avoid an altercation.

Just the next day, Conte handed in his resignation to the club, leaving them in 19th place in Serie A, but his nightmare was over. 

Fractious relationship with the Juventus board 

Conte turned his reputation around again after a successful spell with Siena and was finally hired by Juventus after guiding his former club back to Serie A.

It was in Turin – his dream job after starring for Juve as a player – where he truly made a name for himself on the managerial front, winning three Serie A crowns in a row and the Italian Super Cup on two consecutive occasions.

There were big expectations he would continue his managerial journey with Juventus but in the summer of 2014, Conte rather unexpectedly called it a day and resigned from his post in Turin.

Conte abruptly resigned as Juventus boss after guiding them to three straight Serie A titles

Conte abruptly resigned as Juventus boss after guiding them to three straight Serie A titles

Conte abruptly resigned as Juventus boss after guiding them to three straight Serie A titles

Conte had turned Juve into the dominant force again in Serie A but wasn’t happy enough with the direction the club was going in.

Just days after the Juve squad reconvened pre-season training ahead of the 2014-15 season, Conte admitted it ‘may be more difficult to keep winning with Juventus’. It was a surprise move that deeply hurt Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli at the time. 

All the love shown over the years as a footballer and on the bench by Juve was washed away.

Conte would often clash with the Juventus transfer executives. This highlighted a troubled relationship after three years of success in Serie A and a frayed bond due to the continuous market requests from Conte, who was insistent about signing Juan Cuadrado without success. 

If Conte didn’t get what he wanted, he would more than make his feelings known. And in the end, he had enough in Turin.

Too hot to handle at Chelsea 

Up next for Conte was the Italian national team job for two years but he eventually wanted to return to the cut and thrust of club football and Chelsea came calling in 2018.

After a dismal 10th place finish for reigning champions Chelsea during the 2015-16 Premier League season, Conte stunned English football during his first season at the club.

The Italian brought Chelsea back from despair to guide them to the Premier League title in brilliant style, winning the top prize by seven points ahead of London rivals Tottenham in 2016-17.

Conte's broken relationship with Diego Costa was at the heart of his downfall at Chelsea

Conte's broken relationship with Diego Costa was at the heart of his downfall at Chelsea

Conte’s broken relationship with Diego Costa was at the heart of his downfall at Chelsea

He had transformed Chelsea’s fortunes but as always with Conte, chaos was just around the corner at Stamford Bridge.

Conte once again proved too hot to handle for the board’s liking at Chelsea with his relationship with the Stamford Bridge hierarchy becoming strained following a feeble title defence in 2017-18, in which they finished fifth.

His time at Chelsea was inevitably drawing to a fractious ending, and there was no way back after coming to blows with the board.

Owner Roman Abramovich had hoped Conte would land another role in a bid to avoid paying his contract compensation but the fiery Italian held firm and rejected the advances of interested clubs to see out his deal in west London. 

The Blues eventually agreed a compensation package which was worth up to £9million for Conte, who had one year left on his contract, before parting ways with a 61-word farewell statement.

He also came to blows with the board and left after failing to secure a top four finish

He also came to blows with the board and left after failing to secure a top four finish

He also came to blows with the board and left after failing to secure a top four finish

But while he was at odds with the board, Conte’s relationship with players turned sour too, most specifically Diego Costa.

Costa went AWOL just months after Chelsea won the Premier League title in 2017 after a major row with the Italian manager.

Conte stunned everyone by texting Chelsea’s star striker at the time that he was no longer in his plans in the summer of 2017, which resulted in Costa going AWOL.

Conte became embroiled in a war with Chelsea and there was no coming back from it. But despite his time at Stamford Bridge coming to a bitter end, the Italian still managed to secure FA Cup glory for the club in his final match in charge against Manchester United at Wembley in 2018.

Conte could now potentially take over at Real Madrid after Zinedine Zidane decided to resign

Conte could now potentially take over at Real Madrid after Zinedine Zidane decided to resign

Conte could now potentially take over at Real Madrid after Zinedine Zidane decided to resign

It’s a story of rinse and repeat for Conte. Everywhere he goes, he enjoys stellar success but any club that hires him know that they can expect a bumpy ride.

Inter Milan were the latest to feel his wrath after growing furious with the direction the club were going in. 

So it poses the question, where next for the charismatic Italian? Plenty of clubs will be very interested in his services – they will be getting a true champion – but they know the relationship isn’t likely to last long.

Conte could be tempted by a move to Real Madrid after Zinedine Zidane resigned from his post following an underwhelming season.

And you certainly wouldn’t be surprised if the former Juventus, Chelsea and Inter boss won the lot in the Spanish capital.

But an intriguing summer lies ahead. With Tottenham searching for a new manager, could Conte be persuaded to return to the Premier League and join Chelsea’s bitter rivals?

Plenty of clubs will be interested in Conte - but the relationship isn't likely to last long

Plenty of clubs will be interested in Conte - but the relationship isn't likely to last long

Plenty of clubs will be interested in Conte – but the relationship isn’t likely to last long

A move to north London feels more unlikely than to Madrid right now, due to the financial restrictions at Tottenham after missing out on the Champions League and Europa League, and with star player Harry Kane potentially departing.

And working under chairman Daniel Levy, not exactly known for loosening his purse strings, would throw up a fascinating relationship – one you would expect to turn south rather quickly.

Will any other sides make a move? It’s unlikely but Man United may be on the lookout for a new boss after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer failed to secure Europa League glory on Wednesday night, while the future of Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman is up in the air.

Clubs know that Conte will arrive with plenty of baggage. But does the temptation of short-term success outweigh the disaster that could take place behind the scenes? Only time will tell…

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