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Chelsea’s next manager: Five names in the frame

Chelsea are conducting a search for a new head coach, following the decision to sack Graham Potter after less than seven months in charge at Stamford Bridge.

Potter became the most expensive managerial appointment in history when leaving Brighton for Chelsea in September, but struggled for results during a difficult spell in west London.

He departs with Chelsea 11th in the Premier League table and the club’s ownership will now look for a new manager and fresh direction.

We’ve looked at five names who could feature on Chelsea’s shortlist of candidates.

Julian Nagelsmann

Julian Nagelsmann has emerged as an early frontrunner to replace Potter, with the German available following his dismissal at Bayern Munich last month.

Nagelsmann has forged a reputation as one of Europe’s top young coaches in recent campaigns and led Bayern to the Bundesliga title last season. He became the Bundesliga’s youngest ever manager, aged 28, at Hoffenheim and had a successful spell at RB Leipzig in which he led the club to the Champions League semi-finals.

Nagelsmann favours the gegenpress brand of football that would bring high-energy and pressing to Chelsea, while his tactical flexibility could suit a squad with an embarrassment of depth and options. After a surprise exit from Bayern Munich, the 35-year-old is understood to be keen to take time out before deciding on his future but would listen to a proposal from Chelsea.

Speculation has emerged that Chelsea’s ownership have reservations regarding Nagelsmann’s age, despite his impressive credentials. The west Londoners would also need to negotiate with Bayern Munich in order to appoint Nagelsmann, who has been placed on gardening leave. That could prove problematic, given the two teams will meet in the Champions League’s last four if both progress from their quarter-final ties.

Mauricio Pochettino

Mauricio Pochettino could be offered a route back into the Premier League at Chelsea, with the Argentine having been without a club since leaving Paris Saint-Germain last summer.

Pochettino became one of Europe’s most coveted coaches during a five-and-a-half year spell at Tottenham, a period which saw the north Londoners secure four consecutive top four finishes in the Premier League and reach the 2019 Champions League final.

The 51-year-old continues to spend much of his time in London, while his proven track-record in developing young talent could suit Chelsea following the club’s recent transfer business. The west Londoners have invested almost £600m on new talent across the past two transfer windows and could be reluctant to sanction further funds as the club look to meet Financial Fair Play rules.

A coach in Pochettino’s mould – willing to work with and improve the club’s existing young talent – could be the chosen route.

Luis Enrique

Luis Enrique is understood to have admirers within the Chelsea hierarchy and has discussed his ambition to manage in the Premier League.

Available since leaving his post with the Spanish national team after the World Cup in Qatar, the ex-Barcelona boss has been assessing his options ahead of a return to the dugout.

Speaking in an interview with Cadena Ser radio, Enrique outlined his hope to manage a Premier League team capable of ‘important things’.

“I follow above all the Premier [League] because I would like to go to England to work. I wouldn’t go to any team but to one that could do important things, which greatly reduces the number.”

Enrique has a proven track record in winning major titles and in managing a dressing room of big names, with his greatest success having come at Barcelona. He led the Catalans to a La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League treble during the 2014/15 season and won nine trophies across his three seasons in charge at Camp Nou.

Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane remains one of the biggest managerial names available, having not returned to management since leaving Real Madrid for a second time in 2021.

Despite being the second-most decorated coach in Champions League history, Zidane’s true capabilities remain unclear with the Frenchman having not taken on another challenge outside of Real Madrid.

Across his two spells at the Spanish giants he won three Champions League trophies and two La Liga titles, becoming the first coach in the Champions League era to win the competition in consecutive campaigns as Los Blancos won three in a row between 2016 and 2018.

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The 50-year-old has the personality to handle the expectation at Chelsea, though is in no rush to return to management and will choose his next role carefully. Zidane previously dismissed links to Manchester United and suggested his English could make a move to the Premier League difficult.

“Certain conditions make things more difficult,” he told L’Equipe.

“When I’m asked: ‘Do you want to go to Manchester?’ I understand English, but I don’t totally master it. I know there are coaches who go to clubs without speaking the language, but me, I work differently.”

Ruben Amorim

Ruben Amorim continues to be linked with Premier League vacancies, having impressed with his work at Sporting Lisbon.

The 38-year-old led Sporting to a first Portuguese Primeira Liga since 2002 in 2020/21 and has also lifted two Taça da Liga titles at the Estádio José Alvalade. Sporting’s front-footed brand of football has impressed and Amorim has his eye on European success this season after eliminating competition favourites Arsenal in the Europa League’s last 16.

He has discussed the prospect of departing for a new challenge, but insists he is in no rush to leave and wants to ensure he exits on good terms.

“I really like being here, I’ve seen many coaches move to other championships and they weren’t happier,” he said, as per Goal.

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“This is an important factor. I’m not looking for anything, I value what I have and not what is said. I’ve had contact with other clubs, Sporting knows, but I want to stay. If I have to leave, either because I’ve been pushed by white handkerchiefs or because I’ve gone to another club, it will happen naturally. I won’t be the one to open the door, Sporting deserves respect.

“If I have to go, I will. If I want to go, I tell the president, Hugo Viana, and I will, but I already said: I want to fulfill the contract, I have very clear objectives for what I want to do. Anyone who wants me will have to pay the clause because that’s my way of doing things.”

An ambitious new Chelsea owner turning to an emerging coach from Portugal? Sounds familiar.

Read – Noughties Nines: Fernando Torres – El Niño

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