Antonio Conte leaving Italy after Euro 2016 amid Chelsea job speculation
Antonio Conte will leave Italy at the end of this summer's European Championship and said he wants to return to club coaching amid strong speculation he will take the Chelsea job.
Conte has been tipped to take charge of Chelsea this summer for some time, and Italian football federation (FIGC) president Carlo Tavecchio confirmed on Tuesday that the former Juventus boss will leave his role in charge of Italy's national team when his contract expires after the tournament.
"Antonio Conte has told me that after the European Championship, his experience [as Italy coach] will end," Tavecchio said in quotes published by the ANSA news agency. "He wants to get back to the day-to-day coaching, and this is understandable."
Tavecchio gave no specific details on Conte's plans beyond the tournament, but sources had previously told ESPN FC that he was in negotiations to take charge at Chelsea for next season.
"We always backed Conte, and we were in touch every day," Tavecchio said, addressing the FIGC's general council. "We will accept this decision with serenity. Now we just have to take it on board and continue working with a person who has boosted the image of the national team again, which is effort and sacrifice.
"I will always be grateful to him for this. Antonio Conte is a man who likes to get things done, and he's missing the day-to-day work [of a club coach], the scent of the grass. This is the most important thing, he has told me.
"It's not about money, it's about work. This is what he has told me. He wakes up in the morning and misses the [work on the] field."
Conte later posted on his Facebook page to stress that he remains fully focused on his current role until the summer but is eager to return to club management.
"At the moment our utmost concentration is on the Euros where, with hard work and sacrifice, we'll try to get the most out of our potential," he wrote.
"Anyone who knows me knows my commitment will be total. After that I feel I've got to go back to being a club manager and having the chance to coach every day. Thanks to president Tavecchio, who has accompanied me on this splendid adventure on a daily basis."
Former Chile boss Jorge Sampaoli was also among the contenders for the Chelsea job, but he has told a radio station in Argentina that his English was not good enough to take on the role.
Last week, ANSA reported that the trial over Conte's alleged failure to report match fixing while in charge of Siena is set to begin on April 4.
Conte was found guilty of failing to report unsporting behaviour in relation to a match-fixing investigation by an FIGC sporting court in 2012. He was initially banned for 10 months, which was reduced to four months on appeal.
The trial beginning next month is part of a criminal investigation in which 103 people are on trial.
Conte, who has denied the charge, could be banned from all sporting activity for over six months and fined at least €30,000 if found guilty.
Italy, the 1968 European Championship winners, have been drawn against Belgium, Republic of Ireland and Sweden in Group E at this summer's tournament.
ESPN FC's Italy correspondent, Ben Gladwell, contributed to this report.