Antonio Conte
Antonio Conte

Former Chelsea manager Ray Wilkins believes Roman Abramovich’s managerial candidate Antonio Conte already have started his work on rebuilding the squad at Stamford Bridge.

Conte and the Italian Football Federation also confirmed on Tuesday that the 46-year-old Italian tactician will step down as Italy national coach this summer.

Chelsea seems certain to be his next destination after leading his country at the European Championships in France.

Owner Roman Abramovich has already prepared a three-year contract for the highly-rated manager worth a rumoured £6million per year to tempt him to west London.

The big-spending Russian owner will also sanction a mammoth spending spree for the new boss after being requested to splash out the cash by trusted friend and current manager Guus Hiddink.

However, Conte may have to re-arrange some of his transfer targets as the Blues are looked to be without the tempting carrot of Champions League football next season, but they have lots of money and the opportunity to build a successful new group around some top stars like Thibaut Courtois, Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard.

Wilkins, who has worked with Chelsea as both a player and manager, revealed in an interview with Sky Sports that he believes Conte has the right plans in place well in advance of taking charge at the Stamford Bridge.

Wilkins said: “He probably has identified the players he wants now and they are probably already in motion.

“The big problem he has is they’re not going to have Champions League football. A couple of the options he might’ve had may be changing their mind about coming to London.

“His main concern will be Italy [at the European Championships this summer] but he will have downtime too. He’ll get downtime during the Euros where he can be working for Chelsea as well – if it’s going to happen.”

Sources in Italy claiming that Antonio Conte has his sights focused on Juventus trio Paul Pogba, Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci along with PSG striker Edinson Cavani, who helped send Chelsea crashing out of Europe this season.

Like Jose Mourinho, Conte always prefers to create an ‘us against the world’ mentality and also has a combustible, confrontational style of thinking. Just like Mourinho, the highly-rated Italian comes with a forceful personality and wants to keep his players on the edge most of the time.

Like Mourinho, he wants to emphasise the collective work over the flair of an individual; something he has been showing during his time with Italy by giving very little space to players like Mario Balotelli, Lorenzo Insigne or Domenico Berardi. So why did Abramovich make Conte his no.1 choice? First of all, the prosaic reasons: he is still available, that means no compensation package would be there to hire Conte — and secondly, he knows how to win league titles, if not the Champions League ones.