According to multiple reports, Antonio Conte is edging closer to becoming Chelsea’s next permanent manager.
The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) was due to meet in Florence on Tuesday, as they do every two months, and discussing Conte’s future and desire to join Chelsea is at the top of their agenda.
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It is believed Conte has already agreed to a three-year $10 million a season contract at Stamford Bridge, as the former Juventus manager is keen to return to club management.
Conte, 46, won three successive Serie A title at Juve from 2011-14 but left to take charge of Italy following the 2014 World Cup and will coach the Azzurri at EURO 2016 this summer.
His contract with the Italian FA runs out this summer, and it is believed he is eager for a fresh challenge in England.
The FIGC could announce Conte’s decision to not renew his current deal in the coming days, while Conte could be confirmed as Chelsea boss as early as next week.
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The growing feeling around Stamford Bridge is that Conte will arrive, but he will have to deal with not having the lure of UEFA Champions League action next season as the Blues’ hopes of finishing in the top four are all but over.
Interim boss Guus Hiddink has guided Chelsea to the relative safety of midtable after the defending champions had a dreadful start to the current campaign which saw Jose Mourinho lose his job, but the last week has all but ended their season.
Chelsea was knocked out of the UEFA Champions League at the Round of 16 stage, 4-2 on aggregate, by PSG last week, plus they were dumped out of the FA Cup at the quarterfinal stage by Everton on Sunday.
Putting the building blocks in place for next season should start now, and Conte will likely head back to Italy to recruit new players and bring a new defensive mentality to Stamford Bridge. God knows Chelsea need it after a dire season which has seen them collapse time and time again at crucial moments. Uncharacteristically their biggest issues have been in defense but the Italian coach is an expert in that area, as he starred for Juventus in his playing days and won five Serie A titles as a defensive midfielder for the Old Lady.
Conte will have his work cut out, but it appears were are getting closer to his his official appointment as Chelsea’s new boss.