Paul Merson ‘wouldn’t be surprised’ if Tottenham go left field for Antonio Conte successor
Paul Merson has praised the work done by Roberto De Zerbi at Brighton and feels Tottenham might try to poach the Italian in the summer.
Antonio Conte has been in charge of the north Londoners since November 2021. They have enjoyed some big wins under the Italian tactician but the pursuit of silverware continues. Spurs will not win a trophy this term and pressure has been mounting on the former Chelsea chief.
There are some in the media who feel his summer departure is now inevitable. However, the ex-Italy boss was in a bullish mood at Thursday’s press conference, suggesting the club are not thinking about sacking him.
Only time will tell if he is correct and much will depend on how Tottenham fare over the remainder of the campaign.
There have been many names suggested as alternatives, with former Spurs chief Mauricio Pochettino thought to be in the frame.
He would certainly be popular among the fans, having guided the Lilywhites to their first Champions League final.
However, De Zerbi’s name has also been thrown about as another man who could step into the Spurs dugout.
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Merson is a big fan of the Italian and believes the season’s run-in will be an audition for bigger things to come.
“I consider Brighton to be major players in both the FA Cup and the race for Champions League football,” he wrote in The Daily Star. “That’s how highly I rate the work of Roberto De Zerbi.
“Tottenham will be watching the Italian in Brighton’s final stretch of the season, there is no doubt about it. They will want to see how he fares under pressure.”
No shock if De Zerbi succeeds Conte
De Zerbi had managed several clubs before arriving at the Amex Stadium. He enjoyed spells at Serie A outfit Sassuolo and with Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk.
And the former midfielder has certainly taken the Premier League by storm since taking over the south-coast outfit.
He had big shoes to full after Graham Potter left for Chelsea. But Merson feels he has added a new dimension to the Seagulls and is certainly in the shop window.
“If De Zerbi delivers between now and the end of May, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him offered the Tottenham job ahead of Mauricio Pochettino,” he added.
“Before De Zerbi came in and Potter was in charge, Brighton were one of the best teams I’ve seen from box-to-box – they just couldn’t finish their dinner.
“Now they have been taken to another level, they’re ripping teams apart and they’re still generating top talent.”
Tottenham still sit in the top four despite an up-and-down campaign. They have won three of their last four top-flight games.
But Liverpool and Newcastle pose a serious threat to their hopes of Champions League qualification.
The Magpies closed to within a point on Friday night after beating Nottingham Forest 2-1 at the City Ground. And Eddie Howe’s side do have a game in hand.
Conte takes his charges to Southampton on Saturday hoping to put some daylight between themselves and the chasing duo.
But, whatever happens between now and May 28, it may not be enough to save the 53-year-old’s job.
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