Chelsea boss Conte delighted with Ranieri visit

This week also saw talk that former Juventus and Italy midfielder Andrea Pirlo could join Conte's coaching team after the end of the current campaign, when assistant boss Steve Holland joins England full-time.

Ray Wilkins, knower of things, has posited that Pirlo is being primed for a spot on Chelsea's coaching team under the stewardship of his old Juventus chum, Antonio Conte.

Antonio Conte has suggested that Chelsea's squad depth and lack of European action is a big reason for their dominance.

"I read this interview about Pastorello".

Conte said: "In this period I am listening to a lot (of speculation) and this is very odd for example".

"It is normal that they want me back in Italy, but I am happy at Chelsea and that is the most important thing, " Conte explained.

'For me and the rest of the defence it's great to have him protecting us like he does. I have two more years on my contract with Chelsea, this is the truth.

Pirlo to Chelsea would reunite Conte with his former player. Also because, for us, it's important to check our players and then to see the improvement. However, I compliment my lads as well since they played very well.

The Blues have a seven-point lead over second-placed Tottenham Hotspur entering this weekend's fixtures.

"We are a team and not 11 single players".

Conte has enjoyed a fine start to his life as Chelsea manager, leading the Blues to the top of the Premier League and making them odds-on favourites for the title.

He added: "I worked in Italy. 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".

  • Julie Sanders