Antonio Conte has responded to reports suggesting Andrea Pirlo is being lined up to become his new assistant manager.
The Italian’s current number two, Steve Holland, will leave Chelsea at the end of the season to become England manager Gareth Southgate’s assistant on a full-time basis.
Asked about the Pirlo reports in a news conference to preview Chelsea’s match against Bournemouth, Conte said: “This is very strange, because Andrea Pirlo is playing and wants to continue to play. I don’t know why someone would want to put this type of situation [out there] for me.
“But it’s normal, this [speculation]. It’s better for me to focus on the present, for me and my players. The present is more important than the future for all. I prefer to be focused on the present and try to finish this season, making this season a great season and not only a good season.”
Conte also hit back at the latest speculation linking him with a move to Inter Milan this summer sparked by an interview given by Andrea Pastorello, brother of prominent Italian agent and Conte’s friend Federico, earlier this week.
“I read this interview [with] Andrea Pastorello, and I don’t know him,” Conte added. “I don’t know why this person has spoken about me. I think I stay here. I’m very happy to stay here. This is the most important thing. I don’t like when I listen to other people speaking for me and about me.
“I have two more years of contract with Chelsea and this is the truth.”
Asked why the Inter reports have proved so persistent, he added: “I don’t know why. I think it’s normal to try to involve my name in this situation. I worked in Italy and I think they want to come back for me in Italy. But it’s normal, this, to [hear] a lot of things in this moment.”