Former Juventus manager Antonio Conte held talks with English Premier League giants Chelsea in Rome last week with a view to taking over at Stamford Bridge in the summer, according to reports emerging from Italy. 

 

Antonio Conte’s contract with the Italian national team is set to expire after the 2016 European Championship in France, and the 46-year-old has thus far shown no signs of wanting to extend it.

Chelsea have been heavily linked with the former Juventus manager, who is thought to be one of the leading candidates to replace interim boss Guus Hiddink in the summer. Current Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri and Atlético Madrid coach Diego Simeone are also reportedly among the Blues’ top options alongside Conte.

However, in news that suggests Conte has shot ahead of the pack, the 46-year-old reportedly met Chelsea officials in Rome last week to discuss the possibility of becoming the Blues’ manager for the start of the 2016-17 season. According to Sky Italia reporter Fabrizio Romano, who is part of renowned journalist Gianluca Di Marzio’s staff, talks are ongoing between Conte and Chelsea regarding the managerial hot-seat at Stamford Bridge next season.

Romano suggests that Conte and Diego Simeone are the leading candidates for Chelsea’s top job rather than Allegri. The Juve boss recently rubbished rumours regarding a possible move to London, insisting that he was more than happy in Turin.

Conte appointment has financial benefits for Chelsea

As the only manager who will not be under contract in the summer (once Italy’s involvement in the Euros is over), there is an obvious financial upside to Chelsea appointing Antonio Conte over Simeone and Allegri.

Blues’ owner Roman Abramovich paid a world-record £13 million compensation fee to FC Porto when he hired André Villas-Boas in 2011, only for the Portuguese’s time at SW6 to end in disaster. With the expansion of Stamford Bridge looming large on the horizon, Chelsea will be keen to avoid such expensive mistakes.

While both Allegri and Simeone are excellent managers and could bring success to Chelsea, Conte is at a comparable level. Three Serie A titles in a row — with one the result of an ‘invincible’ season — tell their own story, and even if his European record leaves a lot to be desired, it is the Premier League on which Chelsea must first focus in order to qualify for Europe’s premier club competition in 2017-2018.

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