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Antonio Conte tops Italian FA president's list for next coach

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 18:  Chelsea manager Antonio Conte looks on during the Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Chelsea at T
Image: Antonio Conte left Italy to take over at Chelsea after Euro 2016

Antonio Conte appears to be Italy's red-hot favourite to take over as national team coach, with their FA president describing the Chelsea boss as "fire".

Conte left his position as Italy head coach after Euro 2016 to take over at Chelsea, where he won the Premier League in his first season in charge and recently signed a contract extension until 2019.

The Chelsea boss was left frustrated by the club's failure to bring in additional summer signings to help defend their title, though, and has denied rumours of player unrest this season.

The Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio (FIGC), led by Carlo Tavecchio, sacked Gian Piero Ventura following Italy's failure to qualify for next summer's World Cup in Russia, and has identified Conte as the hottest contender to succeed him.

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Gianluigi Buffon apologised to the fans after Italy failed to qualify for next year's World Cup in what was his final game for his country

Tavecchio was quoted as saying on gazzetta.it: "We are seeking the best. [Massimiliano] Allegri, [Roberto] Mancini, [Carlo] Ancelotti....these are the names, I say getting warmer. And Conte? Fire."

The Italian FA has spoken to Ancelotti about taking over as head coach, according to Sky Italy, although the 58-year-old is keeping his options open.

Italy lost their World Cup play-off 1-0 on aggregate to Sweden to miss out on the competition for the first time since 1958.

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Tavecchio laid the blame for their failure firmly at the door of Ventura, saying: "It is all the fault of Ventura, he chose the staff, he has done all of it. We as a federation have never interfered."

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