Friday 22 September 2017

Conte to quit Azzurri after Euros for Chelsea

Antonio Conte (PA)
Antonio Conte (PA)

Antonio Conte has moved a step closer to being appointed as Chelsea manager following confirmation from the Italian Football Federation yesterday that the Italy coach will stand down at the end of Euro 2016.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has settled on Conte as the permanent successor to Jose Mourinho, who was sacked in December, after being impressed by the former Juventus coach's reputation for discipline and repeated success in his time in charge of the Turin giants.

Abramovich has chosen Conte ahead of the more widely tipped Diego Simeone and Massimiliano Allegri.

"Antonio has told me that his experience with Italy will end after the Euros," Italian Football Federation Carlo Tavecchio told Sky Italia. "He misses the training pitch and working with players every day. That's understandable."

Conte succeeded Cesare Prandelli as Italy coach in the wake of the Azzurri's group stage elimination at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Having won every major honour as a player with Juventus, including five Serie A titles and the Champions League in 1996, Conte replicated that success during his three-year spell in charge of the club between 2011 and 2014, leading them to three successive Scudetti.

The Italian has been learning English ahead of a move to the Premier League and is known to be relishing the challenge of reviving Chelsea.

His appointment as successor to interim coach Guus Hiddink expected to be confirmed before the end of the season, but he is thought to be already drawing up a list of summer targets.

The first problem he will face is convincing top players to sign for Chelsea if - as seems almost certain - they fail to qualify for next season's Champions League.

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