Hiddink doubts players were told Conte is taking over

Conte's contract with Italy runs out at the end of the season

Guus Hiddink has played down reports suggesting owner Roman Abramovich has told Chelsea’s players that Antonio Conte is to become the club’s next manager.

Reports have claimed Abramovich met with members of the squad to tell them that the current Italy boss will take over from Hiddink in the summer.

Chelsea have held talks with Conte’s representatives and the 46-year-old is keen to land the job at Stamford Bridge.

However, when asked if he believed Abramovich had told the players that Conte would be arriving, Hiddink said: “To my knowledge, I don’t know. But I don’t think so.”

Conte has been in charge of the Italian national team since 2014, but his contract expires after the European Championship, while Hiddink’s spell as interim manager at the Bridge finishes at the end of the season.

Chelsea have lost just once in 16 matches since Hiddink took over from Jose Mourinho in December, yet there has been no indication that the Dutchman will be asked to stay on.

“I am here for a short period,” said Hiddink, who also had a short spell in charge in 2009.

“I think the club also has to go into a new era where it’s not short spells – a new era for Chelsea that is more than one or two years.”