Conte confirms Italy exit, paves path for Chelsea

ROME • Antonio Conte will leave his post as manager of the Italian national football team after the summer's European Championship, clearing the way for English club Chelsea to formalise his arrival at Stamford Bridge.

The Italian Football Federation was due to discuss the Azzurri's managerial situation at a board meeting yesterday, but Conte has already made it clear he will not be seeking to renew his contract after two years with the national team.

The federation's president Carlo Tavecchio, speaking yesterday outside the governing body's home in Rome, confirmed the 46-year-old has made clear his intention to depart.

"Conte will leave the national team after the European Championship," he said. "He hears the call of the (training) pitch and of daily work, which is understandable."

The former Juventus midfielder and manager has been in talks with Chelsea officials for several weeks and is understood to have told Tavecchio on Monday that he would be returning to club football ahead of next season.

Chelsea are expected to confirm his arrival on a three-year contract, having already given him the green light to bring his long-term assistants, Angelo Alessio and Massimo Carrera, with him to London.

Steve Holland, the incumbent assistant first-team coach, is expected to remain on the coaching staff, but there could also be roles for Paolo Bertelli, Mauro Sandreani and Conte's brother, Gianluca.

Conte, who led Juventus to three successive titles up to 2014, replaced Cesare Prandelli on a two-year deal after Italy exited the 2014 World Cup in the group stage.

He will take over a Chelsea team who have endured the worst season of Roman Abramovich's 13-year ownership, with Jose Mourinho having been sacked in December and Guus Hiddink having hoisted the team from the fringes of the relegation zone to 10th place.

Yet, the side were eliminated from the FA Cup and Champions League last week, and are unlikely to be able to offer the new manager European football for the season ahead.

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2016, with the headline 'Conte confirms Italy exit, paves path for Chelsea'. Print Edition | Subscribe