Chelsea manager Antonio Conte appears to have dismissed suggestions Italy legend Andrea Pirlo will join the club's coaching ranks any time soon.
The Blues are on the lookout for a new assistant coach with Steve Holland set to leave Stamford Bridge at the end of the season to take up the same role with the England national team on a permanent basis.
Ray Wilkins, who held that role himself on three occasions having also spent six years at the club as a player, claimed this week New York City midfielder Pirlo has been earmarked for the role once he decides to hang up his boots for good.
"I know for a fact he [Pirlo] has been around Stamford Bridge on a number of occasions this year," Wilkins told TalkSport earlier this week. "He's the one that Antonio Conte would like. He managed him at Juventus until he was 34. He is the one he will want to come in [to replace Holland]."
Conte however has distanced himself from those claims. Ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash with Bournemouth, he told a press conference: "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."
Ahead of the trip to Dean Court, Conte was also forced to defend the club's decision to recall Nathan Ake from his loan spell at Bournemouth. The versatile 22-year-old excelled on the south coast during the first half of the season, but has made just two appearances for the Blues since being recalled during the January transfer window.
"Yes, I think this was the right decision," Conte said. "For us it was the right decision for him to stay in our squad. Also because, for us, it's important to check our players and then to see the improvement. We find a player who is able to stay in the squad, to give him the possibility to show me and the club their capacity, so why not? I'm happy to have Nathan with us."
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