Andrea Pirlo has warned the Chelsea players – and Roman Abramovich – that Antonio Conte is not a man to be trifled with.
The 46-year-old is poised to accept a three-year deal to become Jose Mourinho’s long-term successor at Stamford Bridge.
Conte lifted three consecutive Serie A titles with Juventus before taking the Italy job four years ago.
But although he is keen to return to club management, Italy and Juve legend Pirlo has warned he will not tolerate interference in his transfer policy or team selection.
Pirlo said: “I love the man, I have nothing but respect and admiration for him. I know if he takes a job, any job, it will have to be on his terms.
“The players he wants to sign, those he wants to get rid of, the style he wants to play.
“If you sign him as your coach and then as the owner you want to start making decisions, he is not the coach for you.
“If you let him get on with things and do his methods, then you will have a team that plays attractive football and will, without doubt, be successful.”
Pirlo has also described Conte as “a beast with two wives” – his own and football. The midfielder, who played for the incoming Blues boss at Juve, revealed that Conte’s wife Elisabetta is fully understanding of his obsession with winning and his attention to detail.
He added: “There is a beast in him. I have been in his dressing room at half-time when we have been winning, but he comes in and will be throwing full bottles of water around because of a mistake we made or because he feels we should be further ahead.
“I even know he will turn on the bedroom lights in the middle of the night because he has thought of something he needs to write down – you will not find a more understanding woman than her.”
Chelsea held talks with Conte in London on Thursday. He is understood to have spoken with director Marina Granovskaia having already impressed Technical Director Michael Emanalo. Conte has previously managed at Arezzo, Bari, Atalanta and Siena.
At Bari, he clinched the Serie B title. At Siena, he finished second in the same division. As a player he lifted five titles, the Champions League and the UEFA Cup among a clutch of trophies with Juventus.
“I have played under a lot of great managers.” said Pirlo.
“But I can say that Conte is a genius. Like all men who possess genius, he is a little mad.
“The man can be a beast, a dressing room when he is angry is one of the most dangerous places you can be.”