So the animated Italian has returned to the Premier League. Antonio Conte has been announced as the new Tottenham Hotspur manager on an 18 month deal and his hotly-anticipated arrival could turn around the fortunes of the North London club that has failed to win a trophy in 13 years.
But this appointment also represents a milestone and potential turning point for both the club and Daniel Levy. He was repeatedly shunned in his hunt for a manager this summer and was forced to settle for Nuno Espirito Santo - who it is reported was not even in the top six initial candidates for Tottenham when the vacancy appeared. But now he has managed to bag his number one choice and the manager who led Inter Milan to their first Serie A title in over a decade.
Conte’s reputation certainly precedes him, and this is why his relationship with Levy will be worth keeping a close eye on. Now, one of the Italian’s main influences for accepting the job has been Tottenham’s new director of football Fabio Paratici, who made Conte his first choice in the summer having worked closely with him at Juventus and has now managed to persuade him that this job is now worth taking.
Now the difference between that summer approach and this successful one seems to be the fact that there are less variables this time around, and perhaps Tottenham’s hand has been forced after they were stung by the experience of Nuno, but Conte is ready to take on the challenge.
Although Paratici is the director of football, assurances will have to have been made by Levy himself that the club were ready to invest significantly in order to attract Conte to the club. He left Inter Milan as they were unable to keep their star players including Romelu Lukaku while his success has always been built on significant investment.
Yet Levy is world-renowned for his tightness with Spurs’ purse strings. He kept hold of Harry Kane despite pressure from the player as his value wasn’t met by Manchester City and only spent a net sum of £30m this summer - a figure that pales in comparison to Tottenham’s rivals.
That summer investment - or lack of - was the damning indictment of the lack of faith in Nuno. The season before, Jose Mourinho was afforded £100m to spend in the transfer window as he brought in the likes of Sergio Reguilon, Giovani Lo Celso and Piere-Emile Hojbjerg yet his abrasive nature ultimately cost him his job, two days before the League Cup final.
Now, Conte is not on the same level as Mourinho when it comes to disruption inside a club, but he is a man who will repeatedly speak out if he feels he is not being supported by the board. The plan for spending in the upcoming transfer markets should have been ironed out in the contract negotiations, but there is always a chance that Levy backtracks when it comes to putting his hand in his pocket.
This is where Paratici’s role will become crucial. The Italian will be the link between the manager and the chairman, while he will also be the man overseeing the transfers in and out of the club. Their relationship has flourished before, Conte won three Serie A titles in Turin and this move is arguably the biggest step Spurs have made in recent years.
They boast a world class stadium and a fantastic training ground but now the focus will turn to improvement on the pitch. Levy is clearly putting faith in both Paratici and his new manager, but can a leopard change its spots? His next move is surely to loosen the purse strings in January.