EXCLUSIVE: Antonio Conte set to shock Chelsea with John Stones decision
ANTONIO CONTE will become manager of Chelsea this summer – and then tell the club signing John Stones is NOT his priority.
NOT WANTED: Antonio Conte might well choose not to sign Everton's John Stones
The Everton and England defender is still a major target for Chelsea, with technical director Michael Emenalo driving the proposed £50million deal.
But Conte is understood to see his Italy centre back - Leonardo Bonucci - as a better option.
In fact, the Daily Star Sunday has been told that Conte is not convinced about Stones, who Chelsea tried to sign three times in last summer’s transfer window.
Italy boss Conte sees Juventus’ Bonucci, 28, as good value, with the Juventus defender valued at £25 million - half the fee for Stones if Everton can be persuaded to sell.
Conte is also known to be an admirer of Inter Milan centre back Andrea Ranocchia, who is on loan at Inter Milan.
Ranocchia, 28, is out of contract at the end of the season.
Chelsea already face competition for Stones, 21, from Manchester City.
The Stamford Bridge club are in the market for a top central defender to replace captain John Terry, 35, who is out of contract at the end of the season.
Everton resisted their initial attempts to secure Stones, who can operate at right back as well as the centre of the defence.
And the Goodison club believe they are in a stronger position to keep their top assets following the arrival on the board of new investor Farhad Moshiri.
Everton insist they are committed to keeping striker Romelu Lukaku, midfield playmaker Ross Barkley - and Stones.
But that won’t deter big clubs attempting to raid Roberto Martinez’s squad in the summer.
Conte, meanwhile, is set to become Chelsea boss on a three-year contract after leading Italy at this summer’s European Championships in France.
And the Italian has also told Chelsea he wants Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan as his first signing if he is appointed in the summer.
The Italian is favourite to replace Guus Hiddink at Stamford Bridge when his contract with Italian national team expires after Euro 2016.
The 46-year-old has long admired the 27-year-old Belgium international midfield player Nainggolan having watched him regularly in Serie A, and is keen for him to link up with countryman Eden Hazard at Chelsea.
Antwerp-born Nainggolam, whose father came from an Indonesian backbround, is also wanted by Juventus and Roma would expect the bidding to start around £25million before even starting talks.