The leading contenders to replace Antonio Conte as Chelsea manager
Antonio Conte is on the brink of the sack at Chelsea after his side slumped to a humiliating 4-1 defeat to Watford at Vicarage Road.
Conte’s Chelsea future has been under the microscope in recent weeks amid public questioning over the club’s player recruitment, and Monday night’s performance could be the final straw.
Conte himself admitted last month that it will be up to the club whether he stays beyond the summer.
So who could Chelsea consider as their next manager? Here are nine possibilities.
Luis Enrique 2/1
The early favourite with the bookies.
The former Barcelona manager has been out of work since deciding to take a year-long sabbatical from the game in April 2017. Enrique left the club after three years, a reign in which he has won one Champions League title, as well as two league and cup doubles.
“I need to recover. I’m not thinking about other teams. It will be a year to recover, but now what’s left to do is to end the season with all our objectives achieved,” said Enrique in April.
It could be difficult for Chelsea to persuade the 46-year-old to cut short his sabbatical if a new manager were required mid-season but a summer approach could be well received.
Guus Hiddink 3/1
Perpetually Chelsea’s caretaker-manager-in-waiting.
The former Holland head coach has enjoyed two interim stints in charge at Stamford Bridge and could would be the most sensible option if Conte is dismissed before the summer.
Hiddink won the FA Cup in his first interim spell in 2008/09 when Luiz Felipe Scolari was sacked, before returning to the club on a temporary basis following Jose Mourinho’s sacking in December 2015.
If he were to be appointed, it would surely only be as a stop-gap to a permanent appointment in the summer.
Massimiliano Allegri 5/1
The man who replaced Antonio Conte at Juventus in 2014.
Allegri managed to sustain Conte’s success at Juventus before going on to, arguably, surpass it – leading the Old Lady to three Serie A titles and two Champions League finals.
The former AC Milan manager is one of the favourites to become the club’s next manager partly on account of a recent Italian newspaper report from Corriere dello Sport that claimed the 50-year-old has agreed in deal in principle to take over in the summer.
Diego Simeone 6/1
One of the few managers in the world whose manic touchline antics surpass Antonio Conte’s.
The Argentine is regularly linked with a move to the Premier League, but is widely understood to prefer a move to Italy for his next managerial job.
A year ago it seemed as though Simeone was edging towards the Atletico Madrid exit door but having signed a new two-year contract extension in September it would cost Chelsea a significant sum to prise him from the Spanish club.
Maurizio Sarri 10/1
This season’s breakout manager.
After 25 years in a series of unglamorous positions, Sarri’s Napoli side have become one of the most exciting teams to watch in Europe.
“We faced one of the best sides I faced in my career – probably the best,” said Pep Guardiola following Man City’s 2-1 win over Napoli in the Champions League earlier this season.
“It is one of the wins I am most proud in my career. Today we won against an incredible team. To do that you have to do an incredible performance.
Roman Abramovich has made a habit of appointing Italian managers in his reign at Stamford Bridge and the 59-year-old boss has a reputed release clause of just £6.75m.
Zinedine Zidane 12/1
A year ago the Frenchman was being regarded as one of the world’s top coaches after leading Real Madrid to a record-breaking trophy haul.
Fast forward to 2018 and the 45-year-old has admitted his position is under threat with Real Madrid 19 points adrift of league leaders Barcelona.
Bringing Zidane to Stamford Bridge would certainly represent a marquee signing and could help persuade the likes of Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard to stay at the club long term.
Marco Silva 12/1
Fifteen years on from the arrival of the Special One, could Abramovich be tempted into appointing another young, precocious Portuguese coach?
Currently out of work after being sacked by Watford last week, Silva’s stock remains high despite his surprise dismissal.
The Portuguese has earned plenty of admirers since beginning life in England with Hull last season.
Could be viewed as too risky an appointment given his lack of experience in managing at the top end of the Premier League.
Brendan Rodgers 14/1
The Northern Irishman has slowly but surely rebuilt his reputation since being sacked as Liverpool manager in October 2015.
Rodgers led Liverpool side featuring Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho to the brink of the Premier League title in 2014 so there would be no qualms about his ability to manage big-name players.
Having spent time at Stamford Bridge after Jose Mourinho hired him to head up Chelsea’s youth team, the Celtic manager is familiar with the inner workings of the club: philosophy Conte has consistently found frustration with.
Frank Lampard 40/1
A very long shot.
Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer has been linked with the vacant role at Oxford United and has made no secret of his desire to go into coaching at some point in the future.
Roman Abramovich has made a point in trying and find roles for former Chelsea players but the top job at Stamford Bridge could come a bit too early for Lampard.