With a third consecutive Scudetto wrapped up and Juventus having the opportunity to breach the 100-point mark on the last day of the Italian season this weekend, Antonio Conte is without doubt one of Europe’s most-respected coaches.
The 44-year-old is the major reason that the Turin giants have been transformed from a misfiring side with potential into the nation’s dominant force since he took over at the club in May 2011.
In his three years in charge of the club, Juve have been a side that has wiped the floor with Italian football, winning three consecutive Serie A titles at a canter and setting records along the way.
In Conte’s first campaign in charge in 2011-12, the Bianconeri went through the entire campaign unbeaten, while last season there was never really any doubt over who the national champions would be.
Despite the significant improvement of Roma this term, Juventus have continued their dominance and improved as a team.
After beating their closest rivals on enemy soil at the weekend, avoiding defeat against Cagliari at home this weekend will see the side record 100 points.
Inter had set the landmark of 97 points in 2006-07, but this Juventus team is even more impressive and dominant than that vastly successful Nerazzurri outfit.
Assuming Juve avoid a shock against Cagliari, the side will have only lost seven games in three seasons; three less than in the single campaign prior to Conte’s appointment.
Although performances in the Champions League have not matched their domestic displays, Conte must be accredited as the mastermind behind Juventus’ reign.
However, the ex-Siena tactician has revealed that he may well be open to looking at other options, with his future in Turin looking less than assured with his comments to Sky Italia after the win over Roma.
“I repeat, these three years have been fantastic and I asked so much from these players, who gave me everything I wanted.
I generally don’t agree with a sabbatical, but if there was a unity of ideas to leave with great affection and respect, then I would evaluate other projects that intrigue me.
These things go in cycles and I’ve already told the club what I think. We will soon clarify the situation.”
For Conte there are certainly pros and cons in deciding whether to continue with the team he starred for as a player for 13 years.
Elimination from this season’s Europa League at the semi-final stage, especially with the final to be played in Turin, will have been a bitter pill to swallow.
Conte may well decide that he needs to remain with the club to enhance his legacy with European success, while Roma’s challenge domestically is the most dangerous and competitive to arise during his tenure as Juventus boss.
However, the Italian manager will also consider leaving on a high.
Watching Pep Guardiola’s final season at Barcelona, where he was ground down with the weight of expectation and eventually relinquished the La Liga title to Real Madrid, will be a lesson that Conte may decide to heed.
Already a Juventus legend as a player, he will be afforded the same treatment as a manager if he walks away now. The appeal of a new job, in a new country, will also be a draw card – the Italian will surely have his pick of available positions elsewhere.
Although not yet determined, Conte’s decision will have a massive impact on Italian football.
If he remains in Turin, Juventus will once again go into next season’s Serie A campaign as overwhelming favourites, with the confidence and track record to make it four Scudettos in a row.
However, if the club’s mastermind of success is to leave, filling his shoes would be a considerable task.
His successor’s job of getting the best out of Conte’s group of players would be very difficult and the supremo’s departure could well open the door to the likes of Roma and Napoli to capitalise. Without Conte, Juventus may well be fallible again.
Italian football fans will watch on in forthcoming weeks with interest as Conte’s decision is made, with it set to have serious repercussions on 2014-15’s Serie A campaign.