Conte rails against Chelsea exit rumours
Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte hinted his long-term future remains at Stamford Bridge, despite persistent rumours that he could leave at the end of the season.
The Italian signed a new contract with the Blues after guiding them to the Premier League title last season, but it did not extend the expiry date beyond 2019.
Reports of homesickness have raised doubts over the former Juventus and Italy coach's potential longevity at Chelsea, with club's hierarchy this week linked with a move for former boss Carlo Ancelotti if Conte opts to depart prematurely.
Conte has dismissed Chelsea's hopes of catching runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City, in the midst of a 16-game winning run that has put them 11 points clear at the top, but suggested after Saturday's 1-0 win over Southampton that bringing the fight to Pep Guardiola next term remains on his agenda.
"Every day there is speculation about my future," Conte told reporters.
"It's not right because I think I deserve a bit of respect for what I did last season, for what I am doing this season.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) December 16, 2017
"To read every week: 'Next season the club contacts this coach or this coach' - for me this is not a problem, but it can create problems with the players because the players believe we could [drift] apart.
"I have another year on my contract, so in this moment my focus is total, to improve my players, to try to improve the team, to try to improve the club.
"If you understand football, there is a moment you must have great patience, to know that someone is working very well.
"I think last season we did a fantastic job but this job is continuing this season. We are trying to change the average age of our team. I think for a club like Chelsea it is very important to start to do this, if you want to create a new base and face the future with confidence."