It’s safe to say that Maurizio Sarri’s first season at Chelsea has been one of ups and downs. The Italian achieved a third-place finish and could win the Europa League against Arsenal on Wednesday, but has come under heavy criticism from fans for his style of play, stubbornness and reluctance to play young players.
Sarri is now being heavily linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge, with Juventus reportedly keen on bringing him in to replace the departing Massimiliano Allegri.
So, if Sarri does decide to return to Serie A this summer, who would Chelsea look to take over the reins? Here are six contenders.
While his name hasn’t been mentioned much in recent weeks, Chelsea reportedly contacted Blanc back in February when the club was enduring a poor period of form under Sarri.
The Frenchman won four Ligue 1 titles as manager of Bordeaux and PSG, but hasn’t been in a job for three years and would be a particularly underwhelming appointment for Chelsea fans.
However, he may be in with a small chance of landing the job if the looming transfer ban hanging over the club puts off other candidates.
Likelihood – 2/10
The wildcard, Terry has yet to take his first steps into management but helped lead Aston Villa to the Championship play-off final as Dean Smith’s assistant coach.
Even if he is a complete rookie, Terry is Chelsea’s greatest legend and his appointment would surely generate some approval from the fans.
Another Chelsea legend, Dennis Wise, recently said that he believes Terry will become Chelsea manager before Frank Lampard, who has been strongly linked with the job, so maybe there’s something in this.
However, Terry’s lack of experience will count against him as the club prepares for what promises to be a tough 2019/20. With Middlesbrough reportedly keen to appoint Terry as manager, the former Chelsea captain may be better off cutting his teeth at a lower level before his inevitable return to the Bridge.
Likelihood rating – 3/10
One of the more surprising names to be recently linked with the Blues, Lopetegui has reportedly made himself available for the job.
The Spaniard has endured a fairly torrid couple of years. He led Spain to the 2018 World Cup, only to be sacked before the first match began after agreeing to join Real Madrid at the end of the tournament. Lopetegui lasted just 14 games at Real before being dismissed and has been out of work ever since.
While the move may not make much sense on paper, Lopetegui is represented by super agent Jorge Mendes, who has a strong relationship with the Chelsea hierarchy and has offered his client to the club.
It certainly wouldn’t be a crowd pleaser, but it would be a cost-effective alternative. Lopetegui could be an option if a transfer ban prevents Chelsea from getting their top targets.
Likelihood rating – 3/10
Erik ten Hag
One of the most impressive managers of this past season, Ten Hag surprised everyone by leading his brilliant young Ajax team to the Champions League semi-finals.
While they just missed out on the final, Ten Hag still led the club to its first Eredivisie title in five years and secured a domestic double by winning the KNVB Cup.
Such impressive feats have seen the Dutchman linked to Chelsea in the last couple of months, but, while admitting he was honoured by the links, Ten Hag has said he is happy to remain at Ajax.
However, should Chelsea make a firm approach, Ten Hag would surely give it serious thought. He will find it hard to better this past season at Ajax, and with the club facing a fight to keep hold of their top talents, a move to the Premier League would surely be tempting.
Likelihood rating – 5/10
The man Sarri is reportedly set to replace at Juve, Allegri certainly fits the mould of previous Chelsea appointments. Like Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and Antonio Conte before him, Allegri is a no-nonsense, proven winner with world class coaching pedigree.
The Italian won five consecutive Serie A titles at Juve and led the club to two Champions League finals, but departs following a disappointing quarter-final exit to Ajax this season.
Allegri’s reserved style of play is certainly more similar to what Chelsea fans are used to compared to Sarri’s philosophy, but his Juve side were often criticised for a lack of identity and failing to get the best out of creative talents like Paulo Dybala.
Whether Allegri would take the reins amid a transfer ban is another question. The coach has been linked with Tottenham and PSG, but with Mauricio Pochettino and Thomas Tuchel now looking more likely to stay, Allegri’s options are dwindling and he may be tempted by a move to the Bridge.
Likelihood rating – 7/10
The fans’ choice, ?Chelsea legend Lampard only took his first managerial job last summer but has been hugely impressive, leading Derby to the Championship play-off final.
Lampard has also proved adept at nurturing young players, including Chelsea loanees Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori. With Blues fans desperate for the club to make more of academy graduates such as Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Lampard has certainly shown he’s willing to place faith in young talent, and with great success.
One of the main gripes fans have with Sarri is that there’s no identity to the current team. Lampard, with Jody Morris by his side, would certainly help solve that issue and would be a manager the fans could feel a connection with again.
Yet the move would still be a risk. With Eden Hazard potentially on his way out and a transfer ban hanging over the club, next season could be one of the most difficult in recent memory for Chelsea, and Lampard is still a rookie.
Likelihood rating – 8/10