Andrea Pirlo is aware of speculation linking him to a reunion with Chelsea manager Antonio Conte at Stamford Bridge, but will take time to consider his next move after announcing his intention to retire at the end of the season. The 38-year-old is out of contract with New York City in December and has called time on his career after falling down the pecking order stateside.

Pirlo will depart the sport after 22 years as a professional, during which he has scooped 18 major honours including the World Cup with Italy in 2006, three European Cups and six Serie A winners' medals.

But just hours on from Pirlo revealing his intention to retire from football attention has already turned to his next move. The former AC Milan and Juventus star was linked with a move to Chelsea as part of Conte's backroom team, but he will return to his Italian homeland before making any decision over a move into coaching.

"My future, I don't know yet," Pirlo told Gazzetta Dello Sport. "I will return to Italy in December," he told Gazetta dello Sport. "An assistant to Conte? People are saying that. I have my ideas but I need time to decide. It is not said that since you were a good player you can do it. You have to be prepared and have a field test. You have to spark the spark. I have not been taken yet."

Conte has been without a number two since Steve Holland left west London to work under England boss Gareth Southgate on a permanent basis. The Chelsea boss wants to appoint an Italian to the role to work alongside assistant first team coaches Angelo Alessio and his younger brother Gianluca Conte, who arrived alongside the ex-Italy boss in the summer of 2016.

Upon being appointed Juve manager in 2011, Pirlo was Conte's first signing and his role as the midfield anchor underpinned their success during three years together with the Bianconeri. The pair combined to win the Scudetto three times in a row.

Speculation that Pirlo was set to reunite with Conte were sparked by former Blues midfielder Ray Wilkins, who said he had been spotted around Chelsea during swathes of last season. Conte initially denied the claim, but only due to Pirlo still being focused on playing.

"I know for a fact he [Pirlo] has been around Stamford Bridge on a number of occasions this year," Wilkins told Talksport. "He's the one that Antonio Conte would like. He managed him at Juventus until he was 34. He is the one he will want to come in [to replace Holland]."

Andrea Pirlo
Pirlo and Conte enjoy three successful years at Juventus together. Getty Images