Antonio Conte still option for Real Madrid manager role
With a lack of alternatives currently available for the post, AS has been made aware that the Italian coach is still in the running to take over Los Blancos.
Santiago Hernán Solari will take his place in the away manager's dugout on Wednesday evening against Melilla in the Copa del Rey. Meanwhile, Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez continues to ponder who should take over on a permanent basis from Julen Lopetegui, with Antonio Conte still very much in the picture.
Conte remains a Madrid option
Nailed on as the new manager over the weekend, then dismissed from the conversation on Monday, the Conte links continue. The Italian's capture was at a very advanced stage, but then the interest cooled, initially seen on the back of comments from club captain Sergio Ramos after the Camp Nou humiliation. The player's reaction was one element, and then there were the demands being made by the perceived coach-elect. Conscious that he'd be coming into a team where the dynamics and atmosphere were negative, he asked for a long-term contract, guarantees of having control of the dressing room, and a sizeable salary, more than Madrid were intending to pay.
With these complication, everything pointed to the arrival of Conte being parked indefinitely, however, AS sources indicated that the former Chelsea and Juventus boss is still an option. More than that, he is the only alternative currently in the reckoning for the club, although the potential of interim coach Solari keeping control if he gets an immediate positive response from the players is also being considered. He is likely to have the next four matches before the international break (Melilla, Valladolid, Viktoria Plzen and Celta Vigo) to prove himself.
Of course, the signing of Conte still provides complications, with obstacles in his path to the Bernabéu bench. The first problem is with the contract. The Italian has a claim against Chelsea worth 10 million euros and it is understood that this case would be affected if he was to start with Madrid before it is concluded. To counter this potential financial loss, the request is for around 10 million euros net per season, with Madrid only willing to offer eight million.
Another issue is the length of the contract, Conte wanting long-term security ('long' relative to modern football management standards), while Pérez would prefer to keep his options open in case things don't work out as hoped, without adding another huge payout to the list.
Then comes the Real Madrid dressing room. The influential Sergio Ramos sent out a clear message to the management from the Camp Nou:
"I've always said: respect is earned, it is not imposed," he said. "We have won everything with managers that you know, and in the end, the management of the dressing room is more important than the technical knowledge of a manager."
These words put a doubt over Conte, a manager who wants to be able to do his work with freedom and with the support of the players. The brakes were stamped on, but with few alternative routes for the club to go down, the Italian option may be the one to see the green light. Solari will, however, come into full view if the fog around the Bernabéu starts to lift.