Chelsea have confirmed the appointment of Antonio Conte as their new first-team head coach. The former Juventus boss has signed a three-year contract to replace interim boss Guus Hiddink in the summer, following the completion of his duties with Italy in Euro 2016
Conte had been tipped as the main candidate to take over permanently at Stamford Bridge since the departure of Jose Mourinho in December 2015. Pep Guardiola, Diego Simeone, Massimiliano Allegri, Manuel Pellegrini and Jorge Sampaoli were also among the reported options considered, but the Italian seemed to confirm his interest when he announced in February he would not be renewing his Italy contract.
The Blues have now confirmed the news, following reports on 3 April in his homeland that Conte had travelled to London to iron out the final details of his agreement.
"Chelsea Football Club is delighted to announce the appointment of Antonio Conte as first-team head coach," the club confirmed in a statement.
"Conte, who is currently the manager of the Italy national side, has signed a three-year contract. He will begin work in London following his country's participation in this summer's Euro 2016 tournament."
Conte has expressed his delight over the agreement as well as his desire to replicate the success he found in Italian football, winning three straight Serie A titles during his three-year reign at Juventus between 2011 and 2014.
"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," he said. "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."
Conte, who had previously refused to confirm reports linking him with the Chelsea job, has said he and the club made the announcement public to prevent speculation over his future – as he wants to focus on helping Italy this summer.
"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," he explained.
Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia, meanwhile, has welcomed the appointment, thanking Hiddink for his contributions since taking over from Mourinho in December.
"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," she said. "I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Guus Hiddink, who has done a great job since he joined us in December."