Antonio Conte has denied reports he is on the verge of returning to management after being spotted at the meeting of two of his former clubs Atalanta and Juventus on Wednesday night.
The 49-year-old has been linked with both AC Milan and Inter in recent weeks, and was also rumoured to be Real Madrid’s No.1 target to succeed Julen Lopetegui earlier this campaign.
However, Conte claimed he is unlikely to return the management arena anytime soon, having left his post at Chelsea last summer.
READ MORE: The 10 most bizarre deadline day stories
“I miss the pitch," he admitted to Sky Italia, “but I decided to take the rest of this year off and I'm looking forward to a new destination, which of course we do not know.
“I came from London to Milan to watch the Juventus match, but I have not received any offers from Italy.”
The latest news could be taken as a sign that Conte is still interested in the Real Madrid job. Prior to Santiago Solari’s appointment, he was believed to be in the frame for the job, and with Los Blancos’ record for hiring and firing managers, there are no guarantees the Argentine will be there at the start of next season.
Conte began his managerial career with Arezzo in 2006, before moving to Bari, whom he helped gain promotion to Serie A.
After spells with Atalanta and Siena, the Italian was given the Juventus job in 2011. Conte had represented the Old Lady as a player for 13 years, making over 400 appearances and winning 13 major honours in Turin.
His second spell at the club proved just as successful and he guided them to three consecutive league titles between 2012-2014.
After a two-year stint as coach of the Italy national team, Conte moved to Chelsea in 2016. He enjoyed a mixed spell at the Premier League club and, despite winning the title in his first year, ended up falling out with most of the squad in his final season as manager.
Conte’s relationship deteriorated so badly with most of the Blues squad that Chelsea winger Willian claimed earlier this season he would have left had the former Juventus coach not been replaced at Stamford Bridge.
“Would I be here if Conte stayed? No chance. No," he said. "I'm here. I'm here because I want to play for Chelsea. I will only leave if Chelsea want me to go.”