Bye Juventus, hello Italian national team?
WHEN Juventus arrive in the Lion City to play a Singapore Selection at the Sports Hub on Aug 16, it will be without their manager, Antonio Conte.
The 44-year-old quit the Italian champions on Tuesday and has now emerged as favourite to take over the vacant Italian national team manager's job.
Conte steered Juventus to a third consecutive title last season, the first time the Italian football giants had achieved the feat since a five-season title run in the 1930s.
His shock announcement came in a video posted on the club's official website.
Dressed in a black-and-white striped Juventus shirt, he told the website he felt time had caught up with him at the club and that the time was right to go.
"I have decided to terminate my contract with Juventus," he said.
"I have matured with time and my feelings led me to make this choice. It may be more difficult to keep winning with Juventus.
"An enormous thank you for what you have given to me as a player and as a coach. I have always been close to you. I want to say that the journey taken in recent years has been historic."
The feeling was reciprocated by club chairman Andrea Agnelli, who wrote on the site: "Dear Antonio, you have been a great leader and this news saddens me greatly.
"Three years together have led us to write history with three consecutive titles and two Italian Cups."
The managerial merry-go-round has seen Conte emerge as a front runner to succeed Cesare Prandelli as Italy's coach, after Prandelli's post-World Cup resignation and subsequent appointment in charge of Turkish club Galatasaray.
Former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini, released recently by Galatasaray, and former AC Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri have been linked with the Juve job.
Conte had already hinted he could quit the Serie A giants if they failed to invest in players during the summer break, ahead of a fresh assault on the Champions League.
After winning the title, Conte, speaking in the third person, said: "If Antonio decides to take another path, then he will do so with the greatest respect for the club and the players."
Conte also led Juve to a record haul of 102 points when they won their 30th official league title last season.