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Antonio Conte in talks to bring former Italy U19 head coach to Chelsea

Italy v Turkey- UEFA European U19 Championship Elite Round Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images

One of the sticking points, supposedly, between Chelsea and Conte in the ongoing contract extension negotiations has been the replacement of Steve Holland on the coaching staff as well as the possible extension of it since Conte likes to work with a large entourage.

While Chelsea had earlier claimed that Holland’s role as first-team assistant wouldn’t be directly replaced — Antonio Conte has two more assistants in Angelo Alessio and Gianluca Conte, while some of Carlo Cudicini’s duties also fall under this definition — Conte has already been allowed to add a new technical analyst, David Mazzotta, to the team, with reports also hinting the possibility of a further addition.

It sounds like that new face will be Paolo Vanoli, a former journeyman left back who played for about ten different teams in Italy, most notably Parma back in the late ‘90s when they were good (Crespo, Verón, Thuram, Cannavaro, Buffon, et al.). He in fact scored one of the goals in their UEFA Cup final victory over Olympique Marseille in 1998-99. He also had a brief stint at Rangers in Glasgow, shortly before retiring to a career in coaching, where he eventually worked with Conte at the Italian national team for two years. At the time, Vanoli was coaching the U19 side, though for the past year, he had served as assistant to Giampietro Ventura, who had replaced Conte last summer as Italy head coach.

There’s no word on what Vanoli’s exact role at Chelsea may be, though if we were to speculate, his prior experience with the Italian youth setup (he worked his way up from the U16s starting in 2010) could be notable. There were vague rumors of Conte wanting more control over the Chelsea youth teams and while we wondering why on earth he’d ever want to do that himself, getting “his” man in there could be a viable solution — though I’m not aware of any changes in the youth setup beyond Joe Edwards taking over for Adi Viveash as the head coach of the Development Squad. Or perhaps Vanoli will just make the first-team a bit more youth friendly. We’ll have to wait and see.

UPDATE (Jul.12): Vanoli has joined and has been spotted at training! Welcome, Paolo!

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