Antonio Conte has dropped his biggest hint yet that he will take over as manager at Chelsea in the summer by revealing he will work in England "sooner or later."
The former Juventus manager has been widely linked with the Stamford Bridge role and followed up his recent confirmation that he would move on from his current job as Italy boss after UEFA Euro 2016 by praising the Premier League, per the Sun's Antony Kastrinakis:
The word Chelsea is not a taboo. But I could pronounce the names of Italian clubs too.
I think that even the national team of England are very strong given the qualification they had. They won every match in the qualifiers. English football is very coveted by players and managers.
It’s a championship that is very interesting from every point of view. I think, that today the English and Spanish are very interesting championships from every point of view.
It’s always very competitive and interesting. Till now I’ve always managed in Italy I’ve never hidden my will in the future to work in other countries.
If that happens soon or not I don’t know but it will certainly happen sooner or later.
Current Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink—who succeeded Jose Mourinho in December—was only ever installed on an interim basis with the next permanent Blues manager to be appointed at the end of the season.
Whoever comes in will have a big rebuilding job on their hands following a dreadful 2015-16 campaign for the west London outfit.
They have been a shadow of the side that won the Premier League in 2014-15, with many of their best players underperforming.
Per WhoScored.com, Eden Hazard has failed to score a single goal in the English top flight this term, while key men Nemanja Matic, Cesc Fabregas, John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic have been largely awful.
With Chelsea set to be without Champions League football next season, as many as nine players—including Hazard and striker Diego Costa—could reportedly depart the club, per Tony Banks of the Daily Express.
Bleacher Report's Dean Jones believes that if Conte is appointed, he should be able to attract top stars to join Chelsea even without the offer of Champions League football:
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The 46-year-old Italian manager also has a proven track record of returning big clubs to their former glory from his time at Juve.
The Old Lady finished seventh in Serie A in both 2009-10 and 2010-11, a terrible return for a club of their stature.
Conte was appointed as Juve boss in May 2011 and subsequently won three Serie A titles on the bounce before his departure in July 2014.
If Chelsea do appoint Conte as their next permanent manager, they will hope he can have as immediate and successful an impact as he did at Juve.
With an unbeaten Premier League record since Hiddink's appointment, it is clear that Chelsea still have great quality in their ranks.
Conte has the ability to mould that quality into a title-winning squad once more, and his latest comments strongly indicate he could arrive at Stamford Bridge in the summer.