Andrea Pirlo hails 'beast' Antonio Conte amid Chelsea reports
Andrea Pirlo has hailed Italy boss Antonio Conte as a "beast" and "genius" amid reports the former Juventus coach is on the verge of moving to Chelsea, but also warned owner Roman Abramovich not to interfere with his methods.
Conte is expected to be announced as Chelsea's coach for next season within the next 10 days, according to multiple reports on Thursday. The defending Premier League champs are in search of a permanent replacement for Jose Mourinho, who left the club by mutual consent in December after a poor start to the league campaign.
Conte won three consecutive Serie A titles with Juventus before unexpectedly taking the Italy job in the summer of 2014, and was fundamental in turning the club's fortunes around in the aftermath of the Calciopoli scandal.
Pirlo, who played for Conte in each of his title-winning seasons with the Bianconeri, heaped praise on his former coach on Friday, with a warning.
"I love the man, I have nothing but respect and admiration for him. I know if he takes a job, any job, it will have to be on his terms," Pirlo told the Mirror.
"The players he wants to sign, those he wants to get rid of, the style he wants to play. If you sign him as your coach and then as the owner you want to start making decisions, he is not the coach for you.
"If you let him get on with things and do his methods, then you will have a team that plays attractive football and will, without doubt, be successful."
Pirlo lauded Conte's maniacal work ethic and attention to detail, and added that the Italian's passion for football is not restricted only to the pitch.
"There is a beast in him," Pirlo continued. "I have been in his dressing room at half-time when we have been winning, but he comes in and will be throwing full bottles of water around because of a mistake we made or because he feels we should be further ahead.
"His life is football. I know he is up until 3-4 a.m. in the morning, studying videos, looking at errors, studying the opposition of the next game. It is a good job Elisabetta is such an understanding wife, and if he takes the Chelsea job then she will have plenty of time to enjoy London, because he has two wives -- Elisabetta and football.
"I even know he will turn on the bedroom lights in the middle of the night because he has thought of something he needs to write down -- you will not find a more understanding woman than her."
Pirlo continued: "I have played under a lot of great managers. But I can say that Conte is a genius. Like all men who possess genius, he is a little mad.
"The man can be a beast, a dressing room when he is angry is one of the most dangerous places you can be."