Football

Conte to take over at Chelsea

New Blues boss promises to achieve as much as he did in Italy

Antonio Conte has been appointed Chelsea's first-team head coach on a three-year contract.

Conte succeeds Jose Mourinho, who was sacked as manager last December, and will take up his role after managing Italy in this summer's European Championship, Chelsea announced yesterday.

The 46-year-old said on chelseafc.com: "I am happy we have made the announcement now so everything is clear and we can end the speculation.

"I will continue to focus on my job with the Italian national team and will reserve speaking about Chelsea again until after the Euros."

Conte has the unenviable task of rebuilding a side which won the Premier League title last season before imploding this term.

Mourinho's second spell came to an end on Dec 17 after a miserable start to the season and a "palpable discord" with his players, according to Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo.

Guus Hiddink has restored stability in his second interim spell as boss - the Blues are 10th with seven games to go - but Chelsea face a rare season without a trophy and will be without Champions League football next term.

Conte guided Juventus to three successive Serie A titles before taking over the Azzurri and is used to success himself.

He becomes the fifth Italian boss of Chelsea - following Gianluca Vialli, Claudio Ranieri, Carlo Ancelotti and Roberto Di Matteo - and the eighth permanent boss appointed during Roman Abramovich's 13-year ownership. Mourinho was appointed twice, while there have also been caretaker spells for Hiddink, Rafael Benitez, Steve Holland and Ray Wilkins.

Conte added: "I am very excited about the prospect of working at Chelsea Football Club.

"I am proud to be the coach of the national team of my country and only a role as attractive as manager of Chelsea could follow that.

"I am looking forward to meeting everyone at the club and the day-to-day challenge of competing in the Premier League.

"Chelsea and English football are watched wherever you go, the fans are passionate and my ambition is to have more success to follow the victories I enjoyed in Italy."

Despite not taking up the job until after Euro 2016, Conte will now have the opportunity to shape Chelsea's strategy in the remainder of the season.

One of Conte's first tasks will be to decide the future of captain John Terry. The 35-year-old defender announced in January that he would be leaving Chelsea at the end of the season, but the club insisted a contract offer could be forthcoming.

Chelsea's players, some of whom reportedly want to leave given the absence of Champions League football next term, may also be appeased by the end of the uncertainty over the identity of their boss.

Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia said: "We are very pleased to have recruited one of the most highly regarded managers in world football and we are equally pleased to do so before the end of the current season. This aids our future planning."

- PA Sport.

Chelsea: Who should stay and go

Press Association Sport assesses the Chelsea squad and states which players Antonio Conte should keep, sell or give time.

KEEP: Thibaut Courtois, Asmir Begovic, Cesar Azpilicueta, Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic, Kurt Zouma, Cesc Fabregas, Nemanja Matic, Jon Obi Mikel, Eden Hazard, Willian, Bertrand Traore, Kenedy, Diego Costa.

DISCARD: John Terry, Loic Remy, Alexandre Pato, Radamel Falcao, Papy Djilobodji.

Terry has already announced he is leaving, so unless Conte is desperate to keep him, the captain should be allowed to go. Remy has found chances limited, while Pato, Falcao and Djilobodji have barely mustered a few minutes of action among them.

GIVE TIME: Oscar, Pedro Rodriguez, Baba Rahman, Matt Miazga, Juan Cuadrado, Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

Oscar is infuriating: brilliant when he wishes to be, but wildly inconsistent.

He is still young, though, so maybe he needs a rest, rather than a change.

Cuadrado's move to London failed, but he has shown enough with Juventus that he has the talent to impress.

CHELSEA (EPL)eplFootballAntonio ConteUncategorisedJose Mourinho