Conte dismisses talk suggesting Pirlo will assist him at Chelsea

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Antonio Conte says Ray Wilkins' claims that Andrea Pirlo is being sighted for the Blues' coaching staff have no grounding.

Wilkins, a former assistant to Gianluca Vialli, Carlo Ancelotti, and others at Chelsea, said Pirlo was "the one that Antonio Conte would like" as his No. 2. This suggestion came despite Pirlo stating in his autobiography that he "wouldn't bet a single cent on me becoming a manager," and the fact that he's still plying his trade for New York City FC in Major League Soccer.

"This is very strange, because Andrea Pirlo is playing and wants to continue to play," Conte told ESPN FC's Liam Twomey of the midfielder who worked under him at Juventus and Italy. "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."

@andreapirlo21 what a player ⚽️👌 LEGEND

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Pirlo, 37, has made well-documented visits to Chelsea's Cobham training ground and Stamford Bridge digs this season, supplementing rumours he was in talks to help the Blues that have arisen since ex-assistant Steve Holland left to take on a full-time job within the England national team setup.

Conte had requested for a fellow Italian to assist him at Chelsea, according to The Times' Matt Hughes, but the club is proud of its longstanding tradition of having British sidekicks.

So, Pirlo is apparently staying put in the Big Apple, with Patrick Vieira's NYCFC preparing for a trip to D.C. United on Saturday.