Tuesday 11 December 2018

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte Italy’s top choice as new national coach

Antonio Conte previously managed Italy between 2014-16. Getty
Antonio Conte previously managed Italy between 2014-16. Getty

Luke Brown

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is Italy’s first choice to succeed Gian Piero Ventura as national team manager, the Italian Football Federation confirmed on Tuesday morning.

Italy have been searching for a new manager since Ventura was fired after failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia.

And Conte – who previously managed the national team and reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 – has emerged as their first-choice replacement.

“I haven't chosen yet but I think Conte is the one who could do the best,” the Italian federation vice commissioner, Alessandro Costacurta, told Tuesday's Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I'll definitely talk with him in a couple of months. (Conte) has already shown he knows how to be national team coach while the others haven't yet.

“That doesn't mean I wouldn't be happy with Mancini or with Ancelotti — although (Ancelotti) seems to have removed himself from consideration.”

Since Ventura’s dismissal in November, Luigi Di Biagio has been managing the national team on an interim basis.

Italy next play friendlies against Argentina and England, before their first fixture in the inaugural Nations League, which starts in September.

Conte managed Italy for two years before announcing his move to Chelsea and was largely successful in the role, winning 14 of his 25 matches in charge.

He led Chelsea to the Premier League title in his first season in English football, but his side have struggled in their attempts to defend their crown. They currently sit fifth in the table, 19 points behind runaway league leaders Manchester City.

Conte has one year remaining of the three-year contract he signed with the club in 2016, but he has admitted he is not entirely happy in London and that he misses living in Italy.

“I miss (Italy), that’s beyond doubt,” he said in an interview with Italian radio station RadioUno earlier this season.

“Italy is my homeland, so once I have had some good experiences, formative experiences, important and life-changing experiences, I’ll be back. I don’t know when but that’s the aim.”

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