London (AFP) – Chelsea manager Antonio Conte signed a new two-year deal with the Premier League giants on Wednesday as the club moved to quell reports of a rift with the Italian.
The deal was confirmed as Conte, who guided Chelsea to the title in his first season last year, prepares to take his squad on a pre-season tour of Asia.
“I am very happy to have signed a new contract with Chelsea,” he said in a statement on Chelsea’s official website.
“We worked extremely hard in our first year to achieve something amazing, which I am very proud of. Now we must work even harder to stay at the top.”
No terms of the deal were disclosed. English press reports said the new contract improved the terms of the remaining two years left on the three-year deal Conte signed when he joined the club last year.
Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia said the contract rewarded the “incredible success” Chelsea had enjoyed in Conte’s first season.
“This new contract reflects our belief that he can continue to deliver results both domestically and as we return to European competition in the Champions League,” Granovskaia said in a statement.
“Since arriving in west London, the 47-year-old Italian’s passion, tactical acumen and winning mentality have endeared him to Chelsea supporters all over the world and we look forward to further triumphs with Antonio at the helm.”
Conte’s coaching staff has been augmented by the arrival of two more Italians, with Paolo Vanoli joining as an assistant to the first team head coach and Davide Mazzotta working as assistant/player analysis.
The contract boost for Conte comes amid reports that the Italian has grown frustrated with Chelsea’s inability to reinforce their title-winning squad.
Chelsea had long been linked to a move for Everton striker Romelu Lukaku but saw the Belgian international join Manchester United instead.
Conte had also reportedly been keen on Juventus duo Leonardo Bonucci and Alex Sandro, but neither came to fruition.
Chelsea’s hierarchy meanwhile were reportedly unhappy that Conte had notified unsettled striker Diego Costa that he does not feature in his plans — potentially weakening the club’s bargaining position in the event of any transfer negotiations.