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Thursday 14 December 2017

Contact with Stamford Bridge lands Italian boss in hot water

Italy’s coach Antonio Conte Photo: Reuters
Italy’s coach Antonio Conte Photo: Reuters

Italy boss Antonio Conte is at the centre of a storm over his contact with Chelsea while still in preparation for the Euro 2016 finals.

And the Premier League is still dominating halfway through international week after Zlatan Ibrahimovich, gearing up for the Group E opener against Ireland in the Stade de France with a home friendly against the Czech Republic, again hinted that he is open to offers.

Conte's decision to quit after the Euros was confirmed two weeks ago by Carlo Tavecchio and for Irish fans, introduces a welcome degree of uncertainty into Italy's preparation

In Italy, he has been sharply criticised by Italian Football Coaches Association chairman Renzo Ulivieri, who gave both barrels to Chelsea officials for arranging a meeting with Conte to discuss the vacant Stamford Bridge job after José Mourinho was sacked and while he was still in his role as national team boss .

'It was known that Conte would leave the national team. The thing I regret, though, is that a club contacts the coach of a national federation without any warning," said Ulivieri.

"It shows we are in a world which is failing to demonstrate even a minimum amount of education and manners.'

Ibrahimovich has all but confirmed that he will leave PSG in the summer and claimed that he already has several offers on the table, including some from the Premier League.

"I've had four fantastic years with them," he said, adding that there were no ongoing talks with the French champions about an extension to a contract which expires at the end of the season.

"The relationship I have with them is only positive. They have done everything they could for me and my family."

Available on a free transfer and linked to Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea, Ibrahimovic said there had been interest from Premier League clubs.

"Yes, there is an interest, I can confirm that. We have to see where it leads," he said with a grin.

"When the moment comes, when all the cards are on the table, that's when I have to go through what I want, and then we'll see who wants it more," he added.

"A lot of big things will happen this summer. Have a little patience and you will have things to write about. The future looks very good," said Ibrahimovic.

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