MILAN — Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is Italy’s top choice as national coach.
“I haven’t chosen yet but I think Conte is the one who could do the best,” Italian federation vice commissioner Alessandro Costacurta told Tuesday’s Gazzetta dello Sport. “I’ll definitely talk with him in a couple of months.”
Conte, whose future at Chelsea remains uncertain, already coached Italy to the quarterfinals of the 2016 European Championship before joining the London club.
Other coaches being considered by Costacurta include Roberto Mancini, Carlo Ancelotti, and Claudio Ranieri.
“(Conte) has already shown he knows how to be national team coach while the others haven’t yet,” said Costacurta, the former AC Milan and Italy defender who is in charge of selecting the coach under the federation’s emergency administration.
“That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be happy with Mancini or with Ancelotti — although (Ancelotti) seems to have removed himself from consideration.”
Gian Piero Ventura was fired in November after failing to qualify four-time champion Italy for the World Cup. Luigi Di Biagio was promoted from the under-21 squad as an interim replacement.
Italy plays friendlies against Argentina and England next month and doesn’t have an official match until the Nations League starts in September.
Conte coached Italy from 2014-16 but announced his move to Chelsea before Euro 2016.
Conte has one more season remaining on his three-year contract with Chelsea but he has indicated he is not entirely happy in London and misses Italy.
Upon leading Chelsea to the English Premier League title in his first season at Stamford Bridge, Conte signed fresh terms with the club but was given only a pay rise — not an extension.
Chelsea stands fifth in the league, risking missing out on the Champions League places. Conte will also be tested in an upcoming return leg against Barcelona in the Champions League round of 16. The first leg ended 1-1.