PSG, Antonio Conte Reps Reportedly Open Talks to Lure Manager from Chelsea

Gill Clark@@gillclarkyFeatured Columnist IMarch 24, 2018

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 14: Antonio Conte head coach / manager of Chelsea during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Second Leg match FC Barcelona and Chelsea FC at Camp Nou on March 14, 2018 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)
Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Paris Saint-Germain have reportedly opened talks with Chelsea manager Antonio Conte's representatives over the Italian replacing incumbent Unai Emery as the team's boss in the summer.

Emery is expected to depart the club, and Conte is one of four options under consideration, according to Fabrizio Romano of the GuardianJose Mourinho, Diego Simeone and Massimiliano Allegri are the other three managers reportedly in the frame.

Emery is on course to guide PSG to the Ligue 1 title, but the club's continued failure in the UEFA Champions League is likely the reason for his imminent departure. The 46-year-old was hired after guiding Sevilla to three consecutive UEFA Europa League triumphs but has failed to make an impact in Europe with PSG.

The club were knocked out at the last-16 stage in 2017 by Barcelona despite winning the first leg 4-0, and they fell at the same hurdle this season to Real Madrid. Sevilla remain in the competition and will face Barcelona in the quarter-finals.

The French club seem to crave success in Europe and have invested heavily in players such as Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in a bid to lift the trophy for the first time. Right-back Thomas Meunier has appeared to confirm the coach will exit the club, per ESPN FC's Jonathan Johnson:

Jonathan Johnson @Jon_LeGossip

So, Thomas Meunier has confirmed what we have all known since Real Madrid... Coach Unai Emery is gone at the end of the season. In press conference with Belgium on his PSG future: “I am waiting, because lots of things will be changing, such as the coach.”

If Emery does depart, PSG will want to bring in a high-quality manager, and Conte has recently appeared frustrated and unsettled at Chelsea. Matt Hughes at The Times explained his problems at Stamford Bridge:

Matt Hughes @MattHughesTimes

Key points in Conte v #cfc: persistent agitation over transfers from manager, failed power grab last summer followed by disappearing act, Board uneasy about role of his brother in transfers and unhappy about repeated links with Conte to other clubs.

The Italian won the Premier League in his first season at the club, but the Blues have struggled to defend their crown and were beaten comfortably by Barcelona in the Champions League, 4-1 on aggregate. There has been persistent speculation over Conte's future, and he has even spoken about links with PSG, per Goal's Nizaar Kinsella:

Nizaar Kinsella @NizaarKinsella

Conte on PSG links: "I am starting to have these thoughts that, no, it is very strange from the start of the season to read or listen to a lot of news about my job, about the club. I think I have already answered this question and nothing has changed" #CFC #PSG

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has a reputation for having little patience and has shown he is not afraid to sack managers. The club's only hope of silverware this season lies in the FA Cup and they also face a battle to qualify for next season's Champions League. 

Given Conte's apparent unhappiness, the two parties may simply agree to separate, and it would be little surprise if he did leave in the summer. The 48-year-old would be a good addition for PSG but only if they want short-term success, per Johnson:

Jonathan Johnson @Jon_LeGossip

@Brazilfan91 Long-term, he is a good idea. Depends what PSG want. If they want short-term success, Conte is a good idea. IMO Pochettino could be their coach for 5+ years. He is not necessarily bad defensively, he can only get players of a certain level with Spurs. Different level with PSG.

The Chelsea boss has also been linked with a return to the Italian national team, who he coached for two years before moving to the Premier League in 2016. Italian federation vice-commissioner Alessandro Costacurta said Conte is the "one who could do the best," according to La Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t the Telegraph).

Emery and Conte both look set to move on this summer, but it's unclear if Conte is the right fit for PSG. The Italian has shown he can put together a title-winning team, but he may be more tempted by a return to Italy than the pressure of trying to bring the European Cup to PSG.