Antonio Conte is the favourite to succeed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United, however, the Red Devils have doubts and it has nothing to do with his managerial credentials.
Solskjaer is under a world of pressure following a bruising 5-0 hammering against rivals Liverpool on Sunday in the Premier League. Forced back to the drawing board, and despite Solskjaer’s own belief that his side is close to success, large sections of the club’s fanbase are now calling for the Norwegian to be replaced.
Several names have been linked with succeeding Solskjaer, including former Inter Milan and Chelsea manager Conte.
However, CaughtOffside now understands that the Red Devils’ concerns over the Italian’s integrity could scupper the deal.
During phone calls, several senior sources have told CaughtOffside that, whilst managing Chelsea between 2016 and 2018, an investigation into Conte’s conduct was undertaken.
Suspicions of wrongdoing, first flagged by a senior Tottenham Hotspur official, later revealed that Conte and his agent, Federico Pastorello, had made secret agreements with other agents to profit from Chelsea’s transfer policy – all of which was done behind the Blues’ back with no other members of their staff force aware of the Italian’s secret operation – allege our sources.
Conte and Pastorello are alleged to have made arrangements to pocket a percentage of player agents’ fees if they could influence Marina Granovskaia’s signings.
Our sources claim that one deal Conte and Pastorello sought to gain from was Chelsea’s signing of Emerson Palmieri, who arrived from Roma in 2018 for around £18m.
These secret agreements between manager and agents, which are understood to have happened during Conte’s two years in London, are thought to be the main reason why Daniel Levy pulled the plug on hiring him prior to appointing Nuno Espirito Santo.
This was not the first time Conte has found himself under fire; prior to taking over at Chelsea, he was investigated on suspicion that he played a role in match-fixing (Guardian) – following an investigation, the Italian was later acquitted (but not before serving a ban imposed by the Italian football federation).
However, although a proven winner and currently available, his previous misdemeanours are a major factor in Manchester United’s unwillingness to finalise talks over the possibility of replacing Solskjaer.
When asked for their thoughts on Conte being the favourite to succeed Solskjaer, one of our sources said: “Do not go anywhere near that. He has no chance. I don’t think United would risk it.”
Hopefully, Conte and his representatives can come forward and set the record straight, but in the absence of any comment on the matter, these allegations seem to be standing in the way of Conte becoming the next boss of the biggest club in the world.