By Italy correspondent Gianluigi Carrozzini
Chelsea’s top managerial target Antonio Conte is set to fly to London for talks with the club’s hierarchy, Football Insider sources understand.
The Italy manager is poised for negotiations with Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia over a three-year contract.
An Italian source has told Football Insider that there is even the possibility that Conte could be appointed as the new manager by the end of the week.
Conte met a delegation from Chelsea in Rome last week and he was present at the Champions League last-16 clash between Juventus and Bayern Munich on Tuesday night along with the Londoners’ technical director Michael Emenalo.
Conte, 46, has emerged as the favourite to replace Blues’ interim manager Guus Hiddink, whose second spell in caretaker charge will come to an end when the season finishes.
The initial shortlist also included Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone, Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri and Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli.
However, Conte has impressed the Blues’ top brass, including owner Roman Abramovich and Emenalo, and is in pole position to land the job.
Conte is believed to have already told the FIGC – the Italian football federation – that he wants to return to club management after this summer’s tournament.
He is ready for a new challenge outside of Italy, having previously won three Serie A titles with Juventus as a manager and five as a player. Sources also claim the Italian is continuing to take English lessons in preparation.
Hiddink has made it clear he will leave Stamford Bridge after being drafted in for a second temporary stint in charge of the club, despite growing calls for him from the players to get the job on a permanent basis.
Jose Mourinho, who is in advanced talks to become the new manager of Manchester United at the end of the season, was sacked by Chelsea in mid December following a wretched run of results.