Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is the top favourite to get the vacant job of Italy manager but his employers at the London club will not be pleased if he were to leave them mid-season.
Conte left his position as head coach of Italy in 2016 to take over at Chelsea and promptly led the Blues to the Premier League title in his first season but he seems set for a return to his former job after Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio (FIGC) president Carlo Tavecchio described him as “fire”, according to Skysports.
The Chelsea boss has expressed frustration at the club’s failure to strengthen the team last summer and has had to deny reports of players disenchantment in the dressing room.
The FIGC, led by Tavecchio, sacked Gian Piero Ventura following Italy’s failure to qualify for next summer’s World Cup in Russia, and has identified Conte as the hottest contender to succeed him.
Tavecchio was quoted as saying on gazzetta.it: “We are seeking the best. [Massimiliano] Allegri, [Roberto] Mancini, [Carlo] Ancelotti….these are the names, I say getting warmer. And Conte? Fire.”
The Italian FA has reportedly spoken to Ancelotti about taking over as head coach although the 58-year-old is keeping his options open.
Italy lost their World Cup play-off 1-0 on aggregate to Sweden to miss out on the competition for the first time since 1958.
Tavecchio laid the blame for their failure firmly at the door of Ventura, saying: “It is all the fault of Ventura, he chose the staff, he has done all of it. We as a federation have never interfered.”
Conte’s contract, to which he signed an extension last summer, is due to run out in 2019 but the Italian Federation cannot afford to wait that long to name Ventura’s successor.