<
>

Italy boss Antonio Conte: Chelsea not only potential destination

play
Burley: Conte's timing hurts Chelsea (1:55)

ESPN FC's Craig Burley says Antonio Conte's focus on Euro 2016 could hurt Chelsea if he is hired as manager. (1:55)

Italy boss Antonio Conte has told reporters he is still assessing his options despite claims he has already agreed to join Chelsea this summer.

Sources told ESPN FC last month that Conte had held talks with Chelsea, and Italian coaching chief Renzo Ulivieri recently criticised an unnamed club for the manner in which they had pursued the former Juventus boss.

On Monday, Conte spoke for the first time since time since it was confirmed that he will step down from his current position as Italy boss at the end of Euro 2016, and he talked openly and at length about the reasons for his exit.

However, he indicated that he had not yet agreed to take over at Stamford Bridge and suggested he was still open to offers.

Asked about Chelsea, he said: "It's not a taboo for me, but I could also mention the name of Italian clubs [as potential destinations].

"Right now, I am only thinking about a decision I have taken that is not superficial -- I've taken it and now we will see what the future holds, if there's something attractive abroad or in Italy.

"One thing's for sure and that is I won't be Italy coach for the next two years. I want to return to a club."

He did reveal an admiration for the Premier League, though, adding: "English football is definitely very attractive at the moment for players and coaches, not least because it's a very interesting league from many points of view."

Conte stressed that his decision to leave his current role was purely down to a desire to return to day-to-day management rather than because of reported disputes with the Lega Serie A and Italian clubs over releasing players for a training camp.

"After we qualified for the European Championship, I was filled with satisfaction in seeing the lads do what I asked of them," he said. "That was when I thought about whether I could continue, but then four months passed [since seeing the players] and that was very tough.

"Going four months without working and imagining another two years like this -- I struggled from this point of view. You need to work out what makes you happy and I know that I would really have found it hard to stay locked up in the garage.

"When you are in there, you can't even smell the grass. You've got to be objective and admit there are moments when being national team coach weighs you down.

"I've not told [Italian FA president Carlo] Tavecchio about my future plans -- all I had to tell him was that I was leaving. It was hard, because it's not easy to leave a group you've been working well with. It came down to a lot of things and I listened to my heart, like I did when I said yes to the national team.

"I was asked, rightly so, to be correct on all fronts and clarify my future prior to the European Championship. I feel I've thought about it well and pondered my decision, and when I was 100 percent sure of what I felt, I told the president, who is the person who wanted me and chose me.

"I told him my decision with great serenity, explaining to him a bit why I'd made this choice."

Conte believes he will hand over a much healthier Italy side than the one he inherited from Cesare Prandelli following the group-stage elimination at the 2014 World Cup.

"We've worked hard and achieved great results," he said. "We've got a group of players who are improving and certainly they're going to go far. They will just have to continue this work. Our youth teams have made great progress, getting excellent results. Now let's think about the present, which is the most important thing."

Italy face Spain in a friendly in Udine on Thursday evening.