Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has signed an improved two-year deal with the Premier League champions.
The new deal does not extend Conte’s commitment to the club, as he signed a three-year contract on his arrival in west Londonin the summer of 2016, keeping him at Stamford Bridge until the summer of 2019.
Conte said: “I am very happy to have signed a new contract with Chelsea. 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.
“The Chelsea fans have given me so much support since I arrived here one year ago and it is important we continue to succeed together.”
The decision to sign a new contract without extending the terms runs counter to previous comments by Conte, who had indicated his willingness to commit to a longer deal.
Conte lifted the Premier League title at the first attempt in the 2016-17 season, winning 30 games, which included a club record 13 consecutive victories. He also guided the Blues to the FA Cup final, though they were beaten by Arsenal.
The former Juventus and Italy manager was credited for transforming the Stamford Bridge club’s fortunes after they could only finish 10th the previous season.
A brutal training regime was part of the transformation, as was his decision to switch to a three-man central-defensive set-up – his preferred tactic at both Juve and Italy.
Conte’s team has flown out to China and Singapore for pre-season games against Arsenal, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan.
Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia added: “Antonio achieved incredible success last season, adapting to English football very quickly and leading us to the Premier League title.
“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.”
Even if Antonio Conte’s improved contract is worth £9m a year as reported, it still leaves him trailing the league’s biggest earners, Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola.
And when you consider that since 1991 only Mourinho and Claudio Ranieri lasted longer than three years in the job at Stamford Bridge, committing for an extended period seems a bit pointless.