Next in Line: 7 Potential Candidates to Replace Antonio Conte at Chelsea This Summer

Chelsea look set to welcome yet another new name into the hotseat at Stamford Bridge next season, with Antonio Conte all but certain to leave west London in the summer. 

Having expressed discontent with the board, player recruitment and sales this season, it appears inevitable the club and manager will naturally part ways in a deal which will suit both parties.

Roman Abramovich has seen 12 different men walk through the door at Stamford Bridge since his arrival in 2003, including two spells from Jose Mourinho and a couple of caretaker stints for Guus Hiddink. No manager has lasted longer than the current Man Utd boss’ original three-year stint, with Abramovich able to keep continued success regardless of the manager.

Having won five Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, the Champions League and Europa League in the past decade and a half, the Russian has built a foundation to win despite the heavy turnover in managers.

Here are seven candidates who could step in at Stamford Bridge in the summer.

7. Guus Hiddink

Can you ever truly rule out Guus Hiddink when there’s a vacancy at Stamford Bridge? 

A friendship as old as time, the Dutchman and Roman Abramovich are close, stemming back to the period where Abramovich help fund Russian football from 2005 to 2010.

With Hiddink well-liked by Chelsea fans, having won the FA Cup during his first spell in 2009 and steadying the ship with a long unbeaten run to finish 10th after Jose Mourinho’s sacking, the 71-year-old would be welcomed with open arms were he to return for a third turn as the main man at Stamford Bridge. Not one for the long term, however.

Likelihood rating: 2/10

6. Laurent Blanc

The ex-Manchester United defender and former PSG manager has been out of work since leaving the Parc des Princes, winning the Ligue 1 title in each of his three seasons, as well as domestic trebles in back-to-back years.

With the French league a two-horse race, the uber-competitive Premier League would be a step up for Blanc, although he has proven trophy-winning experience with the Parisiens and ability in managing a loaded squad such as Chelsea’s.

Rumours in recent weeks have linked the Frenchman with the vacancy at Stamford Bridge, and he would no doubt bring the brand of attacking football that Roman Abramovich craves.

Likelihood rating: 3/10

5. Carlo Ancelotti

The Italian would be an immensely popular appointment were he to return to west London, with the Stamford Bridge faithful disappointed with his departure in 2011.

Ancelotti led Chelsea to a league and cup double in his first season at the club, but was unceremoniously sacked the next season after finishing a distant second to Manchester United.

Probably the most experienced candidate on this list, having managed the Blues, Juventus, AC Milan, Real Madrid, PSG, and most recently Bayern Munich, his CV reads like a who’s who of Europe’s finest. However, recent reports have linked the Ancelotti with the Italian national job.

Likelihood rating: 4/10

4. Brendan Rodgers

When you need a splash of character, there really is only one man to call. 

Brendan Rodgers hasn’t been seen down south since his departure from Liverpool in 2015, and headed up north to Celtic in July 2016.

Rodgers has broken all records during his time in Glasgow, winning the domestic treble last season, going the whole season undefeated with a record tally of 106 points on their way to going a Scottish record 65 games unbeaten.

The Northern Irishman has previous at Stamford Bridge, having served as youth team and reserves manager under Jose Mourinho before leaving in 2008. 

He would be a polarising appointment, having led Liverpool in the past. Despite this, he has had some success in the Premier League, with his 2013/14 Liverpool side producing some of the most exciting football in the history of the competition.

Likelihood rating: 4/10

3. Massimiliano Allegri

Chelsea and Italian managers are a match made in heaven, with Gianluca Vialli, Carlo Ancelotti, Roberto di Matteo and Antonio Conte all enjoying success at Stamford Bridge.

Juventus manager Allegri is the current pick of the bunch, with the 50-year-old reaching two Champions League finals and three league and cup doubles since joining the Old Lady in 2014.

The Bianconeri recently came desperately close to knocking out holders Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals, denied only by a last-ditch Cristiano Ronaldo penalty.

It would take a lot to prise Allegri away from Juventus, but he would be the sort of top-class appointment Roman Abramovich desires this summer, in the prime of his career.

Likelihood rating: 6/10

2. Luis Enrique

Perhaps the most high-profile manager available this summer, interest from other clubs (including Arsenal) is perhaps the only thing standing between Chelsea and Luis Enrique.

The Spaniard is on a sabbatical after leaving Barcelona last summer, where he led the Catalans to a domestic and European treble in 2016, and masterminded one of the great Champions League comebacks last season, overturning a 4-0 first leg deficit to beat PSG 6-5 on aggregate. 

With his long-term, but ultimately unsuccessful pursuit of Pep Guardiola, Abramovich has always been keen to instil attractive football at Stamford Bridge and the appointment of La Masia graduate Enrique would certainly appeal to his aesthetic sensibilities.

Likelihood rating: 7/10

1. Maurizio Sarri

The Naples native would be an ideal candidate to bring fluid, attacking football to Stamford Bridge.

Sarri has taken an unconventional route to the top, leaving his banking career at 40 to become a full-time coach, working his way through the Italian leagues before succeeding ex-Chelsea boss Rafa Benitez at Stadio San Paolo in 2015.

Despite the loss of Gonzalo Higuain to rivals Juventus in 2016, the Italian re-trained winger Dries Mertens as a central striker to great effect, with the Belgian scoring 28 goals last season. 

This term, Napoli have pushed Juventus all the way, scoring 25 times in their opening seven league games to lead Serie A at Christmas. Despite falling away in the second half of the season, Sarri masterminded a stunning 0-1 win at the Allianz Stadium to keep Napoli’s title bid alive. They are now just one point adrift of Juventus and have four games left to overturn that deficit and win their first Scudetto since 1990.

Likelihood rating: 7/10

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Ex-Belgium Boss Marc Wilmots Accuses Thibaut Courtois’ Father of Leaking Team Information

Former Belgium manager Marc Wilmots has accused goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois’ father of leaking team information.
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Wilmots was fired following the nation’s quarter-final defeat at Euro 2016 at the hands of Wales, and it has since come out that the Chelsea stopper didn’t see eye to eye with the 49-year-old.

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?Supposedly the pair rowed in the dressing room over the manager’s tactics, with Courtois wanting to make it clear he didn’t agree with his methods and approaches to games.
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There is clearly still some bad blood between the pair, and Wilmots has even accused the 25-year-old’s father of leaking crucial team information to opposing nations – something Thierry Courtois denies.

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Speaking to BeIn Sports, as quoted by the ?Mail, the now-Ivory Coast manager Wilmots alleged: “I just have a problem when I make my selection at 6pm and at 6.15pm it is on all social networks.
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“It means that a player has sold the selection. And that’s serious. It came back to me from several French journalists that Courtois’ father was doing it. It means that you do not respect your homeland.

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“I find it a shame, because I have to wait an hour before the match to have the opposition’s selection. And that’s terrible. The opponent is gaining time. He can prepare everything. He knows everything. And that’s really dramatic. It never happened at the World Cup in Brazil.”
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Thierry hit back at the claims by saying: “I never in my life communicated a team composition to any journalist. Being a top player and also in a technical staff of a European level club, I know how delicate it is. My team-mates and players also knew it. We work together for a long time to get results, I hate leaks.”


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Things are still not particularly harmonious within the national team set up, with Kevin De Bruyne having recently questioned the team’s direction under current boss Roberto Martinez.

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REVEALED: Premier League Fans Vote for the Greatest Premier League Side of All Time in 90min Poll

?A lot has been made of who is really the greatest Premier League side of all time, especially after Manchester City’s exploits this season and Arsene Wenger’s imminent departure reaping up memories of the Invincibles. 

The pair are almost inseparable. Pep Guardiola’s side are on course to break numerous Premier League records this season, although it is hard to see past a team who literally went an entire league season unbeaten. 

If only there was some sort of voting based system in which fans could decide this hot debate once and for all. Oh, hang on…

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You have decided that the Arsenal side of 2003/04 is the greatest Premier League team of all time, with Arsene Wenger’s Invincibles claiming a significant 32% of the vote. 

The Gunners team, containing the likes of Thierry Henry, Patrick Viera, Robert Pires, Dennis Bergkamp and Sol Campbell became the first, and only, team to win the league without losing a single game. The north Londoners finished 11 points ahead of second placed Chelsea, conceding just 26 goals. 

A fair way behind in second place is Sir Alex Ferguson’s title winning Manchester United side of 1999/00, a season which saw the Red Devils finish as champions by a record 18 point margin. They also scored 97 goals on the way to their sixth title in eight seasons. 

Quite humorously, the current highly acclaimed Manchester City side doesn’t even finish third in the voting, that title instead going to another Man Utd side managed by Ferguson. 

United’s 2007/08 side finished the season with a Premier League and Champions League double under their belts, as well as a Community Shield victory to boot. 

Guardiola’s current side does in fact finish joint fourth in the rankings, scraping 12% of the vote alongside the ‘Other’ option. Perhaps that is unfair, given the fact that we have witnessed some of the most free flowing football this league has ever seen. 

Maybe it is down to the fact that the season isn’t over yet, and as a result of that, the Citizens haven’t had the chance to officially break some long standing records, such as most goals scored and most points earned. 

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Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea side of 2005/06 earned the lowest amount of votes, gaining just 6%. The Blues won 29 of their 38 games and conceded just 22 goals, as Mourinho drilled a watertight defence towards a second successive league title. 

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Chelsea Captain Admits He’d Be ‘Very Surprised’ if Blues Finish in the Top 4 This Season

??Chelsea captain Gary Cahill is hoping his side can make it into the Premier League’s top four by the end of the season, but remains very skeptical over their chances.

Last season’s Premier League champions did a poor job of defending their title and find themselves in fifth place in the league table with just four games left to play. And with a five-point gap between themselves and fourth-placed Spurs still looming, the skipper is understandably doubtful.

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“I mean, I am not being negative by any stretch, but the games are running out and the teams in there are very good, so if they do let it up it’ll be very, very surprising,” he said, via ?Independent.ie.

“[There is] that gap and the point difference, but the obvious thing is all we can do is win our games. We got a decent result at Burnley and we just need to keep winning.”

Despite their poor campaign in the top flight, the Blues have made it to the FA Cup final, booking a Wembley showdown with Manchester United by means of a ?2-0 semi final victory over Southampton on Sunday.

“We need it and we wanted it,” the centre-back said in reflection. “It was important that we tried to reach the final, so it gives us a good opportunity now.

“The final didn’t go great for us last year, so we want to try and make amends, but we did the job that we needed to do.


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“[Giroud and Morata] both got on the score sheet, so I am delighted with that, but most important was obviously just to get the win but they made it difficult.”

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REVEALED: How Juventus are Inadvertently Responsible for Premier League Target’s €70m Release Clause

??Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and any other non-Italian suitors interested in signing Napoli centre back Kalidou Koulibaly this summer will likely have to trigger the player’s hefty €70m (£62m) release clause if they are to prise him away from the Serie A title chasers.

Koulibaly scored the only goal of the game on Sunday as Napoli stole a late win in Turin to close the gap on the six-time back-to-back reigning champions to just a single point.

The Senegal international has been linked with Chelsea for some time, but Arsenal, United and even Barcelona have reportedly emerged on the scene as well, with United in particular thought to be pursuing defenders in the transfer market at the end of the season.

Napoli, who also own Premier League target Jorginho, are no lightweights when it comes to negotiations and made Juventus trigger a €90m release clause to buy Gonzalo Higuain in 2016.

And Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano for CalcioMercato explains it is that Higuain saga which is responsible for Koulibaly’s release clause being so high as well as having a certain caveat.

After losing Higuain, Napoli seemingly sensed possible danger and had successfully renegotiated Koulibaly’s contract within a matter of weeks, raising the release clause to a largely prohibitive €70m.

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Were he to go for that price, it would make him the second most expensive defender of all time, which would at least line Napoli’s pockets in the search for a replacement.

It would also represent a huge profit for the club after buying French-born Koulibaly for just €8m from Belgian club Genk in the summer of 2014.

The interesting aspect of Koulibaly’s contract is that the release clause apparently cannot be triggered by other Serie A clubs, something that was obviously not the case with Higuain’s clause. It would appear that Napoli learned their lesson and made the terms more specific.

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After watching Higuain make the switch to Juventus, Napoli were weakened and saw the team they were chasing grow stronger in one swift movement.

That won’t happen again, although it means the Premier League clubs chasing Koulibaly will have to pay a premium. And there is no ceiling on what Juventus would have to pay…

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