The view from Italy on Antonio Conte and what he would bring to Chelsea
By Peter Smith
Last Updated: 15/03/16 9:54am
Antonio Conte is the odds-on favourite to become the next Chelsea manager - but what style of play would he bring to Stamford Bridge? We got the view from Italy to find out...
Conte's representatives will hold talks with Chelsea on Friday and discuss the possibility of the Italy coach becoming the club's next manager, according to Sky in Italy.
Conte's representatives will begin negotiations with Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia, Sky in Italy understands, as the Blues attempt to secure a permanent successor to Jose Mourinho ahead of next season.
We've spoken to Sky in Italy reporter Augusto de Bartolo for an expert opinion on the 46-year-old, and how the former Juventus boss may re-shape the current Blues squad…
Is Conte a popular manager with his players?
De Bartolo: "There is a connection between Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho: they both find enemies to fight against to help themselves - and their teams - express themselves as best they can.
"Just like Mourinho, Conte is a coach who uses outside challenges to motivate his players to the maximum level - and demands unconditional loyalty to his project from them.
Would Conte fit Chelsea?
We profile the Italy manager Antonio Conte, who has been linked with Chelsea
"According to this, Conte is very popular with his players. The concrete example of this is when he was at Juventus and the relations he established with Carlos Tevez.
"The former Manchester City striker was a rebel but under Conte's guidance he probably played the best football of his career in Turin. Unlike his time at City, Tevez showed his leadership not only on the pitch but always as a symbol of the team.
"Conte is a coach who has a great and positive influence on his team."
What's the style best associated with his team?
De Bartolo: "It's not easy to tag with one word the style of football that Conte prefers.
"However, in general, I can say that Conte's strategy is based on a solid defensive pack, with a backline of three, which he used at Juventus because of the players he had, or four, which he is using with Italy.
"His style is not based on possession like a Pep Guardiola team - it is based on direct football, to the wings or to the strikers."
And how do his teams play when they don't have the ball?
De Bartolo: "In the non-possession phase, his team pressures opponents high up the pitch - even when defenders are trying to play out from the back.
"Conte uses an aggressive approach, trying to win the ball back as soon as the team can, making the space near the ball short and busy."
Do the players in Chelsea's current squad suit his style?
De Bartolo: "To play the high-pressing game Conte likes out of possession, he needs some fast, aggressive, tactically intelligent players. I think Chelsea already have players with these skills: Diego Costa, John Obi Mikel, Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas, for instance.
"If we look at the actual roster at Chelsea, according to the features of the players, we must consider that Conte will have the opportunity to choose between one of his preferred systems - the 4-3-3 or 3-5-2 he used at Juventus.
Mikel wants Hiddink to stay
John Obi Mikel wants interim manager Guus Hiddink to extend his stay at the club beyond this season.
"I think his choice will depend on the importance, for instance, he will give to Oscar. If Conte bets on the Brazilian, he will need a midfield line that will be able to protect Oscar's tactical anarchy.
"At Juventus, to protect Paul Pogba he had Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio or Arturo Vidal. For this reason, I think Conte will try to buy a player that will be useful for that. It could be Radja Nainggolan, from AS Roma, who Conte admires."
What other transfer business would you expect Conte to do, should he join Chelsea?
De Bartolo: "I think that the attention of Conte in the transfer market will be focused on the defence. As I said, the defensive solidity is for him the most relevant question to solve and Chelsea are having a lot of problems in that sense.
"I'm sure he will look at young players like Kurt Zouma or Baba Rahman and give them the opportunity to grow but he will also try to buy experienced players considering John Terry's contract is running out and Gary Cahill is the only established centre-back.
"Defence apart, Conte won't change a lot in the team, just three or four players useful for the strategy - the plan he has.
"But one thing is sure: he will push out from his players all their value."
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