Antonio Conte: My Chelsea fate in Roman Abramovich's hands
LONDON -- Antonio Conte insisted that he will not walk away from Chelsea at the end of the season, leaving his future at Stamford Bridge in the hands of the club.
Reports this week suggested that the Premier League champions are lining up Luis Enrique or Massimiliano Allegri to succeed Conte in anticipation of the Italian's departure, despite the fact that the improved contract he signed last summer runs until June 2019.
Conte has grown frustrated with the Chelsea hierarchy over the club's recruitment strategy, particularly during a troubled summer transfer window that saw top targets Romelu Lukaku join rivals Manchester United and Alex Sandro remain at Juventus.
When presented with the possibility that Enrique or Allegri could succeed him at the end of the season, Conte on Friday replied that "everything is possible" in football, but he later clarified that he has no intention of resigning and that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich will be the one to decide his fate.
Asked if he would walk away, Conte replied: "No. Now I am fully committed for Chelsea, in this job, to work with my players and to try also to improve the club in the football aspect. I am fully committed in this. I am happy in what I am doing now and what I did in the past. But I am more happy in what I am doing now."
Conte's disappointment with Chelsea's transfer plans appeared to surface again on Friday, as he pointedly described Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez's expiring contract as a "great chance" for top clubs to acquire an elite player for much less than his true market value, while tipping him to join Manchester City.
Asked if he could understand Chelsea supporters' confusion at their club's failure to make a bigger play to sign Sanchez, Conte replied: "I don't know. I can give my opinion to my club for every situation, but then they have to make the best decision and that is right. I don't know how I can answer you."
The availability of Sanchez has become a more pressing topic of conversation at Stamford Bridge in light of Chelsea's attacking struggles. Their past two matches against Norwich City and Arsenal ended 0-0, while club-record signing Alvaro Morata has scored just three goals in 13 appearances since November.
Conte has continued to pick Morata over Michy Batshuayi throughout the Spaniard's cold streak, but he dismissed the suggestion that there is a lack of serious competition for places up front in Chelsea's squad.
"In our team there is competition," he insisted. "There is Batshuayi to try to create in my mind a bit of doubt, but at he same time don't forget you are talking about two young players. For Morata this is the first full season for him and he is learning a lot from this experience.
"He is learning to deal with these type of situations, and if we speak about Batshuayi we are at the same level. He is a young player who had only one season he played with regularity for Marseille.
"We are talking about young players. Me and the club know very well this situation and for this reason we must have patience to understand there is a process, and we are ready to face this process."
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.