Antonio Conte to Chelsea: Blues 'meet with Italy boss' as search continues

The 46-year-old has been among the front-runners for the post since Mourinho was sacked in December

Chelsea have met up with Italy manager Antonio Conte as their search for Jose Mourinho’s long-term successor continues in earnest, according to reports.

The 46-year-old has been among the front-runners for the post since Mourinho was sacked in December and remains chiefly in Roman Abramovich’s thoughts as the likelihood of luring Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone dwindles.

Prominent Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio claims Chelsea intermediaries met with Conte to discuss the prospect of taking over from interim Guus Hiddink at the end of the current campaign. 

The Premier League champions continue to languish in the bottom half of the table meaning that winning the Champions League remains their most likely chance of securing their place in next season’s group stage pot. Hiddink’s men fell to a spirited 2-1 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in the first-leg of their round-of-16 clash this week.

But the Stamford Bridge post is still an attractive position for managers across the globe and Conte is likely to consider it strongly, with his Italy side set to be among the favourites at this summer’s European Championship. 

Former Chile head coach Jorge Sampaoli has also emerged as a genuine contender to become the new Chelsea manager in recent days. The 55-year-old won the Copa America with Chile last year before being nominated alongside Bayern Munich’s Pep Guardiola and Barcelona manager Luis Enrique for world coach of the year. 

Sampaoli is reported to be keen to manage in England. The final decision is likely to be made by Abramovich, technical director Michael Emenalo and director Marina Granovskaia. 

It has also been suggested the Russian billionaire is seeking the advice of former Chelsea manager Avram Grant.

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