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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