I feel responsible for Antonio Conte’s departure from Tottenham
Son Heung-min has admitted that he feels “responsible” for Antonio Conte’s Tottenham Hotspur departure after failing to recreate his excellent form of last season.
Son helped fire Spurs into the Champions League under Conte last season by winning the Premier League golden boot with 23 goals.
But the South Korea international scored only six in the League this season before Conte’s exit was confirmed on Sunday night after the Italian had criticised his players following the 3-3 draw with Southampton.
While some players were reported to be upset by Conte’s comments, Son has made it clear that he holds no grudges with his former Tottenham head coach.
‘I’m sure he’ll have great success in his other career’
Speaking after South Korea’s defeat to Uruguay on Tuesday, Son said: “I’m very sorry to him [Conte]. He is a world-class manager, we had a great journey together, I thank him a lot. I do not know how other players are thinking about him, but I’m sorry to him.
“I should have shown more, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t help the team and I feel responsible as he left the club. He surely has great ability and experience as a coach and I’m sure he’ll have great success in his other career.”
Son will now return to Tottenham to work under acting head coach Cristian Stellini, who was Conte’s number two, and his assistant Ryan Mason as the club attempt to cling on to their top-four place.
Tottenham travel to relegation-threatened Everton next Monday night and Son added: “Coming back to Spurs, I wish to finish the rest of the season in a great way with my team-mates, for our club.”
Julian Nagelsmann is Tottenham’s top choice to permanently replace Conte and it is understood his agent has been in England this week. It is unclear, however, whether or not the visit was related to the German or Spurs.
Other candidates near the top of the Spurs list of potential full-time candidates include Brighton’s Roberto De Zerbi, Celtic’s Ange Postecoglou and Luis Enrqiue. There is understood to be opposition from within Tottenham over the prospect of re-appointing Mauricio Pochettino, despite him maintaining a good relationship with chairman Daniel Levy.