Antonio Conte last night emerged as the leading candidate to take over at Chelsea this summer.
The Italian manager’s contract with the national side expires in the summer and is expected to return to club football after the European Championships in France.
Current Blues boss Guus Hiddink has already confirmed he will be stepping down from the role at the end of May having been placed in temporary charge in December.
Reports on the continent yesterday claimed a deal has already been agreed in principle for Conte to take the reins from the Dutchman.
But while those rumours are thought to be somewhat premature, the 46-year-old has certainly jumped to the front of the queue for the Stamford Bridge hotseat.
Conte, who has been learning English, faces stiff competition from across Europe as the race hots up to become Jose Mourinho’s permanent replacement in west London.
Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri was previously installed as the bookies’ favourite but has since cooled his interest and could even sign a new deal with the Old Lady.
“The conditions for Allegri’s contract renewal are all there,” said Juventus sporting director Giuseppe Marotta said.
“The cycle has just started with him and we can continue with him.
“On top of that, finding a club better than Juventus isn’t easy. He can still get great pleasure from this team, thus there is no Allegri problem.”
Pep Guardiola was Roman Abramovich’s dream choice for the role but the Bayern Munich chief has instead decided to take over at Premier League rivals Manchester City.
The man he will be replacing, Manuel Pellegrini , is another option for Abramovich and would be available without the need to pay excessive compensation.
Diego Simeone is also on Abramovich’s shortlist but the Argentine is understood to be looking forward to overseeing Atletico Madrid’s move into a new 69,000-seater stadium.