It was confirmed this morning that Antonio Conte will step down from his role as manager of the Italian national team after Euro 2016 this summer.
As Sky Sports reports, the 46-year-old is now the odds-on favourite to replace Guus Hiddink in charge of Chelsea from the beginning of next season.
Here, CaughtOffside identifies five of his Italian stars that Conte should consider bringing with him to Stamford Bridge if he is appointed by the Blues.
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The lesser-heralded half of the Juventus centre-back pairing which is on course for a fifth successive Serie A title, three of which came under Conte’s guidance, Bonucci also has 53 international caps.
At 28, he is a few years younger and perhaps more dispensable to Juve than Giorgio Chiellini, but he is a commanding presence who Chelsea could build their new defence around if John Terry leaves.
Mattia De Sciglio
Chelsea’s defence could be in for a complete makeover this summer. As well as Terry, the futures of Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic and Baba Rahman may be in doubt after this disastrous season.
De Sciglio is a full-back in the mould of Cesar Azpilicueta – Chelsea’s most reliable defender. The AC Milan star can play comfortably on either flank and has been a regular in Conte’s Italy side.
Not as glamorous an Italian midfield signing as somebody like Marco Verratti, but Chelsea have to be realistic about who they should target this summer without the lure of the Champions League.
Sturaro has yet to be capped at senior level by Conte, but will surely be in the frame for Euro 2016 after a breakthrough season at Juventus, in which he has impressed with his all-action style. Chelsea’s midfield is in desperate need of some youthful enthusiasm which the 23-year-old could provide.
Stephan El Shaarawy
The 23-year-old forward appears unwanted at AC Milan, having once been tipped as their next big thing. He has been shipped out on loan to Monaco and Roma, where he has scored five goals in nine games.
And Conte remains a fan. He has been unperturbed by his San Siro snub and continued to select him for Italy throughout 2015. If he can extract El Shaarawy’s best form, Chelsea will have a player.
The big Southampton forward is a Conte favourite. The potential Chelsea manager handed Pelle his international debut in October 2014, and he has scored four goals in 10 matches since.
The 30-year-old’s second season with the Saints has not been quite as prolific as his first, and he would not be a long-term solution to Chelsea’s striking problems, but he would be an asset to Conte.
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