Chelsea's Antonio Conte: Arsene Wenger's longevity at Arsenal won't be matched

LONDON -- Antonio Conte claimed that Arsene Wenger's longevity at Arsenal is unlikely to be repeated because managers are forced to "live in the present" by the volatile nature of modern football.

Wenger announced on Friday that he will step down at the end of the season, bringing to an end a remarkable 22-year reign that yielded three Premier League titles, a record seven FA Cup triumphs and several dominant Arsenal teams that helped revolutionise the Premier League.

Conte, who is expected to leave Chelsea at the end of the season after months of public and private tensions over transfer policy, insisted that Wenger deserves a "great tribute" for his achievements but added that he does not think the Frenchman's career will be emulated.

"He deserves a great tribute for his career," Conte said of Wenger. "It would be very difficult to see in the future another manager staying for such a long time at the same club. Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger were a really good story for football. Now it will be very difficult to see that again, another situation like this."

Asked why, he added: "In the past you could have a story like Wenger's story or Ferguson's story. Now you must live the present in football, because you don't know what will happen tomorrow -- or even today.

"To stay for such a long time and to work with the same club for such a long time, it's not simple. Not easy. To imagine myself staying 22 years in the same club... it's very difficult. For sure, you must feel the right sensation to continue to work for such a long time with the same club."

Chelsea's 2-1 victory over Burnley on Thursday was Conte's 100th Premier League match in charge of the Blues, but he was quick to dismiss the significance of such milestones.

"I must be honest, I don't like the stats," he added. "Only yesterday, after the game, I found out it was my 100th game with Chelsea. My desire is always the same. My desire is to try and win every game. This is my mentality. I have a winning mentality. I try to transfer that winning mentality around the people who work with me."

Conte's focus is on Sunday's FA Cup semifinal against Southampton at Wembley, where he is likely to make significant changes to his starting XI from the Burnley win despite positive performances from several players who have struggled for minutes in recent weeks, including Emerson Palmieri and Tiemoue Bakayoko.

"Yesterday he played a really good game, defensively and offensively," Conte said of Emerson. "For sure, offensively, I think he must be more [positive] and try and have more one-versus-ones, because he has these characteristics. We are talking about a young player who's a really good prospect for Chelsea."

On the subject of Bakayoko, he added: "It's the same as Emerson. We are talking about a young player. This season, I think, he struggled a lot but yesterday he played very well, with great focus and great concentration and good quality. Maybe when we play with three midfielders, it's better for him because he has the possibility to attack and fill the box.

"I have two days to make the best decision for Sunday's game, to understand who are the players who have recovered after yesterday's game, and then to make the best decision."