Chelsea appoint Conte as head coach


Chelsea have appointed Antonio Conte as their new head coach to replace Guus Hiddink at Stamford Bridge from the start of next season.

The Premier League champions have long been linked with a move for the Italy head coach and he has now signed a three-year deal which will see him join them after Euro 2016.

Chelsea had been in the market for a new permanent boss since the sacking of Jose Mourinho last December.

They appointed Hiddink as interim coach until the end of 2015-16 and had since been linked with Massimiliano Allegri, Diego Simeone and Conte as permanent options before eventually landing the latter.

Speaking about his appointment, Conte told Chelsea's official website: "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.

"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.

"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."

Conte started his coaching career with Arezzo and also enjoyed spells with Bari, Atalanta and Siena before taking charge of Juventus in 2011.

The 46-year-old guided the Turin side to three consecutive Serie A titles, but resigned in July 2014 to take the vacant Italy job ahead of the Euro 2016 qualification campaign.

Under his stewardship, Italy went unbeaten in their 10 qualifying games and they face Belgium, the Republic of Ireland and Sweden in the group stages in France.

He becomes the fifth Italian to take charge of Chelsea, following in the footsteps of Gianluca Vialli, Claudio Ranieri, Carlo Ancelotti and Roberto Di Matteo.

Chelsea are 10th in the Premier League with seven matches to play, meaning they are highly unlikely to be in Europe for Conte's debut campaign at the helm.