Antonio Conte on the FA Cup
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Frustrated Tottenham boss Antonio Conte is facing more transfer anguish with one of his top targets edging closer to joining Barcelona. Conte has been growing increasingly unhappy with life at Spurs and hinted his time at the club was close to being over following a disappointing defeat to relegation-threatened Burnley.
At the heart of his frustrations has been the club’s actions in the January transfer window, despite an overhaul of the squad taking place.
Five of Conte’s first-team squad departed, either on loan or on a permanent deal, though only two were brought in.
Both of those arrivals, Rodrigo Bentancur and Dejan Kuluveski, were only signed on deadline day, as a number of moves for Conte’s targets fell through.
And though there are still three more months of the current season remaining, Conte is set to see the summer window start with further anguish.
The Italian remains keen to boost his options in central midfield, despite the arrival of Bentancur from Juventus.
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High up his list of potential targets was Franck Kessie, who has starred for AC Milan over recent seasons.
He has been an ever-present when fit and available this season, as Stefano Pioli’s men have launched a Serie A title bid.
But his contract at the San Siro will expire in the summer, with Sport reporting that he has ‘notified Milan that he would not renew’ his deal.
Milan had offered him a new contract with a wage of more than £4million per year, but Kessie has turned that down.
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His situation had attracted the eye of Conte, among others, especially given the fact a transfer fee will not be required to sign him.
Rather than Spurs though, it appears that Barcelona have moved to the front of the queue and are close to an agreement.
It is stated that Barca began negotiations with Kessie ‘months ago’, with talks having taken a step up in recent weeks.
They are said to have reached a deal over the economic terms, with his move to the Camp Nou ‘practically finalised’.
Kessie wants to have his next club confirmed as soon as possible, with the idea of playing under Xavi at Barca said to ‘seduce him’.
It is a bitter blow to Conte, who will not be happy to see yet another transfer target slip through his grasp.
He will be especially disappointed at losing the Ivory Coast international, who is seen as one of the best midfielders in Europe.
The 25-year-old still has a huge part to play in Milan’s battle to win a first Scudetto since 2011, though it looks like he’ll be battling for the La Liga title next season.
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