Antonio Conte is open to taking on the Manchester United manager’s role but has reservations about the club’s structure.
Conte is out of work following his departure from Inter Milan and held discussions with Tottenham about replacing Jose Mourinho in the summer.
The 52-year-old had not identified United as an obvious option for his next job but the club’s chastening form, compounded by the 5-0 home thrashing by Liverpool, has left manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on the brink.
Sources say Conte would want reassurances from United over the club’s direction and that he would not entertain the prospect of having ‘marketable’ players foisted onto him.
There is also uncertainty over United’s decision-making at hierarchical level as the executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward serves out his notice. United have still not confirmed when Woodward, who tendered his resignation after the collapse of the Super League concept in April, will leave or the identity of his successor.
Woodward was responsible for the managerial appointments of Solskjaer, Jose Mourinho, and Louis van Gaal and has been criticised by Mourinho and Van Gaal.
Chelsea encountered issues with Conte over their failure to sign Romelu Lukaku following their Premier League title win in 2017 and resorted to enquiring about Stoke striker Peter Crouch and Burnley battering ram Ashley Barnes in their search for a target man.
Conte led Inter to their first Serie A title in 11 years last season before he left by mutual consent over a dispute with the club’s owners. The former Italy international secured three successive Italian titles with Juventus before he coached the Italian national side between 2014-16. Chelsea won the Premier League title and FA Cup in Conte’s two seasons as coach.
Despite his impressive CV, Conte has a short shelf-life in roles and has spent two years in his last three posts with Inter, Chelsea and Italy.
Conte’s style also jars with United’s idealistic identity that was outlined by the football director John Murtough on the fans’ forum last month. Murtough reiterated United should be renowned for ‘playing fast, fluid attacking football’ and Conte favours tactical pragmatism.