Antonio Conte edging closer to Chelsea switch
Published 25/02/2016 | 02:30
Chelsea are understood to be close to agreeing a deal for Antonio Conte to become their manager.
The 46-year-old Italian is now the clear front-runner ahead of Massimiliano Allegri, who succeeded Conte as Juventus manager and is proving difficult to lure away from the Italian club, and former Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli.
Chelsea have been carrying out 'due diligence' on all three managers on their shortlist, having been informed that Diego Simeone, who had emerged as an early first choice following the sacking of Jose Mourinho, intends to stay with Atletico Madrid.
Chelsea are aware that Simeone, who wants to re-sign striker Diego Costa, is already informing transfer targets and their agents that he expects to be at Atletico next season. There were also concerns at Chelsea over the degree of control that Simeone would demand.
Conte is understood to want to return to club management when his contract as Italy coach ends after Euro 2016 and a deal should be easy to conclude.
Conte is already due to meet with the Italian FA next month before the friendlies against Spain and Germany to formally tell them of his plans. He would like his future sorted out before that meeting.
Talks are understood to have taken place between Chelsea, Conte and his representatives, with the Italian hoping that negotiations can now be concluded swiftly. There are suggestions that an agent representing Conte is due in London today to continue talks.
Elsewhere, Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini could return to football in time for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after Fifa's appeal committee reduced their bans from eight to six years last night in "recognition" of their service to football.