Antonio Conte denies he’s close to returning to management

FLORENCE, ITALY - NOVEMBER 12: Antonio Conte during the "Golden Bench" award at Centro Tecnico Federale di Coverciano on November 12, 2018 in Florence, Italy. (Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images)

Former Chelsea manager Antonio Conte denied reports he’s close to making a return to football and added he’s taking the “rest of this year off”.

The Italian’s two-year spell in charge of Chelsea came to an end last summer following a disappointing sophomore campaign at Stamford Bridge.

Conte’s famous 3-4-3 formation had initially paid off beautifully with a Premier League title in his first season at Chelsea.

But a fifth-place finish the following term sealed Conte’s fate, despite leading Chelsea to their first FA Cup title in six years.

Since then, the 49-year has been linked with a number of high-profile roles with reports in Italy claiming that Conte and Jose Mourinho are in contention to replace Luciano Spalletti as Inter Milan manager should he fail to deliver silverware this season.

After watching his two old clubs in Atalanta and Juventus go head-to-head in the Coppa Italia on Wednesday night, however, Conte announced it’s unlikely he will make any comeback soon.

“I miss the pitch,” Conte told Sky Sport.

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“But I decided to take the rest of this year off and I’m looking forward to a new destination, which of course we do not know.

“I came from London to Milan to watch the Juventus match, but I have not received any offers from Italy.”

After starting out with Arezzo in 2006, Conte has since gone on to manage the likes of Juventus and the Italian national team.

At Turin, Conte led Juventus to three Serie A titles in a row before leaving for Italy in 2014 and eventually ending up at Chelsea two years later.

But the Italian’s spell at London was overshadowed by disputes with the likes of David Luiz and Willian and was replaced by compatriot Maurizio Sarri from Napoli.

Real Madrid and AC Milan have also been linked with Conte recently.