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Jose Mourinho reignites Antonio Conte feud over Christian Eriksen pursuit

Jose Mourinho reignites Antonio Conte feud over Christian Eriksen pursuit
© Reuters
The Tottenham midfielder has been linked with Antonio Conte's club Inter Milan this January.

Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho feels that old foe Antonio Conte has stepped out of line by discussing Christian Eriksen.

Conte, currently in charge of Inter Milan, has talked about the possibility of signing the Spurs midfielder, whose contract expires in the summer, this month.

Reports in Italy suggest the 27-year-old’s agent is in Milan to broker a deal, but Mourinho confirmed on Friday that the Serie A side are yet to make a formal bid.

Conte, who on Friday secured the services of former England defender Ashley Young from Manchester United on a six-month contract, said in the Italian press: “Eriksen? We have to go to people who have already had a career, who are at the end of their contracts.”

Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen has been linked with Inter Milan
Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen has been linked with Inter Milan (Tim Goode/PA)

Mourinho has a long history with Conte as they exchanged a number of barbed insults when the Italian was in charge of Chelsea and he has now reopened old wounds.

The Portuguese says managers with “responsibilities” should not talk about players that are not yet at their club.

“I think Antonio. I think Antonio. He has said publicly,” he said.

“I think we coaches, we should all behave in the same way in relation to transfers.

“I know that for you it is not the best way. But I think we should always be closed, until something really happens.

Mourinho and Conte had a fractious relationship when both were managing in the Premier League
Mourinho and Conte had a fractious relationship when both were managing in the Premier League (Nick Potts/PA)

“So when you ask me about player A, B or C, like when I was asked about three players, how can I speak about three players that are not my players?

“I think we should always be protective. Nothing, nothing. When I see people with responsibilities, speaking about Eriksen….

“I think we shouldn’t speak about players from other clubs until they become our players I think we shouldn’t speak about players from other clubs.

“You ask me about Gedson (Fernandes) since the moment Gedson’s name was on the screen: goes to West Ham, goes to Tottenham.

“You ask me if he comes, if he doesn’t come, I told you nothing. I have nothing to say about it. I think that’s the best way.

“You protect everybody, you protect the clubs, you protect the player, you protect everything.”

Mourinho has conceded he feels sorry for Eriksen, now enduring his second transfer window in a row where he is in limbo.

He said: “I put myself in the player’s position and I think he needs the 31st of January to come and to be sure that he is going to stay until the end of the season, or before the 31st of January to know that he is leaving.

“I think it’s difficult for a player to be in this situation where, ‘Today I am here, tomorrow I don’t know that I am’.

“If he is here on the 31st of January, he will know that he will be here on the 1st of February, he will know that he will be committed with the club, with the fans, with everyone until the end of the season.”

Mourinho, right, won the Champions League with Inter Milan
Mourinho, right, won the Champions League with Inter Milan (Martin Rickett/PA)

It might feel odd for Mourinho to be going to battle with Inter, having been so successful with them in the 2009-10 season, winning the Champions League.

However, he insists nothing will diminish his love for the club.

“That’s not my Inter. My Inter was (former president Massimo) Moratti Inter,” Mourinho said. “This is not my Inter.

“I have no connections with the people so I think it’s nothing to do with that, nothing can change my feeling with Inter, it’s not a situation with a player that is going to change my feeling with the club and the fans. No chance.”

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