Antonio Conte has earmarked Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan as a potential signing if he is appointed by Chelsea, according to reports.
The Italy coach is now the favoured candidate in the eyes of owner Roman Abramovich, as revealed by The Independent, although suggestions that the 46-year-old has agreed a deal in principle are believed to be premature.
Conte, who led Juventus to three successive Serie A titles before moving into international football following the 2014 World Cup, wishes to work in the Premier League once his contract with Italy expires this summer.
According to the Daily Telegraph, he has already identified Nainggolan as his first transfer target and informed Chelsea’s board. The 27-year-old midfielder, who plays for Belgium at international level, has also been linked with a move to Manchester United in the past.
During his time with Juventus, Conte worked with Paul Pogba, another midfielder linked with a move to Stamford Bridge. However, a deal for the France international is unlikely to happen this summer as the likelihood of Chelsea qualifying for next season’s Champions League is remote.
Although Diego Simeone, Massimiliano Allegri and Jorge Sampaoli have also been considered for the full-time managerial role by the club’s hierarachy, Conte is now the firm front-runner.
Chelsea’s current interim head coach Guus Hiddink is not expected to be offered the job permanently, despite reviving the team’s fortunes since his appointment.
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