Antonio Conte Responds to Jose Mourinho's Comments on Christian Eriksen Pursuit

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistJanuary 19, 2020

Inter Milan's Italian head coach Antonio Conte shouts instructions to his players from the touchline during the Italian Cup (Coppa Italia) round of 16 football match Inter Milan vs Cagliari on January 14, 2020 at the San Siro stadium in Milan. (Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP) (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images)
MIGUEL MEDINA/Getty Images

Antonio Conte has responded to comments made by Jose Mourinho after the Tottenham Hotspur manager appeared to criticise Inter Milan's boss for being too public in his pursuit of Christian Eriksen.

Eriksen—whose contract at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is set to expire at the end of this season—has been closely linked with a transfer to Inter, who are understood to be keen on securing a January deal.

Conte told Sky Sport Italia (h/t Metro) after Sunday's 1-1 draw away to Lecce: "I no longer talk about the transfer market. The last time I did it, someone we all know twisted my words, so I won't say anything anymore. I never said anything unusual about the January transfer market making it difficult for all coaches. Every time I say something, it always gets amplified or twisted."

Mourinho, 56, said he felt "coaches should all behave in the same way" after Conte appeared to hint at a move for soon-to-be out-of-contract Eriksen in the Italian media, per BBC Sport.

The Guardian's Fabrizio Romano recently reported that Inter chief executive Giuseppe Marotta had met with Eriksen's representatives in Milan to discuss a transfer:

Darren Wells of the Mirror wrote the two teams remain far apart in agreeing a transfer fee if Eriksen is to leave this month, however, with Spurs said to be seeking £20 million if they sell the playmaker.

Inter are second in Serie A and sit four points off leaders Juventus after drawing their last two games against Atalanta and Lecce.

Sportswriter Carlo Garganese pointed to Sunday's draw against struggling Lecce and suggested someone like Eriksen could have helped unlock the game:

Mourinho and Conte have a history from their time managing together in the Premier League. The Special One was at the Manchester United helm during the 2017-18 season when he referred to Conte as a clown and brought up his previous four-month ban while he was Juventus manager, per the Guardian.

Marotta was also recently asked about Eriksen's chances of a move to the San Siro and gave a seemingly upbeat review of the situation. 

The 62-year-old said: "He [Eriksen] is a Tottenham player, but we know his contract expires in June. It's completely legitimate and authorised by current regulations to see his agent during this time. But at this point, to say that he will arrive in January or June, is a long way off because the competition is so great."

Eriksen joined Spurs from Ajax in 2013 and has long been considered a key player in north London, but he's started just three of 11 Premier League games since Mourinho took charge in November.

Spurs are at risk of losing Eriksen for nothing if the player runs down his contract until June. Dan Kilpatrick of the Evening Standard blamed Tottenham for not managing better the situations of those players who were now losing sale value:

Conte is no longer a direct rival to Mourinho and can afford to take the high road rather than engage in a public spat, but any bad blood could be intensified should the Italian succeed in signing Eriksen this month.

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