ANTONIO CONTE has hinted that Tottenham qualifying for the Champions League could have big ramifications on the future of Harry Kane and even his own.
Spurs go to Southampton today sitting in fourth, ahead of a chasing pack that includes the likes of Newcastle, Liverpool and Brighton.
Conte, 53, is widely expected to leave when his contract expires in the summer.
What happens to key man Kane — whose deal is up at the end of next season — is a subject on the lips of every Tottenham supporter.
Yet when it was put to Conte what kind of effect having such uncertainty over the manager and star player is having on the club, the Italian responded in a way that suggested there is a scenario where BOTH could stay.
He said: “To finish in the top four could be very important for everybody, first of all for the club and for the players, the manager and the fans.
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“For sure if you finish in the top four many, many situations are more simple because you know that we are going to play Champions League.
“The best players and the best clubs want to play in these competitions.
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“We have this idea but other clubs have the same idea. We will see what happens.”
Many Spurs supporters are expecting a change in the dugout next season — with some even hoping for it.
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But surely every fan will be praying that the club’s all-time 270-goal record scorer Kane can be convinced to sign a new deal.
Even if he does not, SunSport understands it is unlikely chairman Daniel Levy would sell to another English club this summer.
It means the most probable outcome, should Kane refuse to pen fresh terms, is he leaves on a free transfer in the summer of 2024.
Conte says it is on the club and the player to resolve the situation, rather than him.
But he does see Kane, who turns 30 in July, as being able to emulate the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Robert Lewandowski in playing at the highest level well into his fourth decade.
The ex-Chelsea boss added: “We are talking about a player that is showing every day to be a really, really good professional.
“I see for him, for the rest of his career, a brilliant future because he takes care of himself — not only on the pitch but off the pitch.
“This is the key. When you overcome 30 years old, if you take care of yourself then you continue to stay at the top. Cristiano Ronaldo is a really good example. We have a lot of important players that continued to have big, big careers for the rest of the time that they played.”
On whether he had any frustration that Kane’s contract situation remains unresolved, Spurs boss Conte replied: “You know very well that in this type of situation it is difficult for the coach to force the situation on the other side.
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“The player and the club will try to find the right situation.
“For sure, I can tell you that every coach wants Harry Kane in his team. But then there are a lot of different situations that you have to see to find a situation. It is on the player and the club, not on me.”
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