With Pep Guardiola already confirmed and Jose Mourinho pencilled in at Manchester United by most of the papers, we take a look at five other possible managerial imports that would provide a great deal of intrigue.
Diego Simeone – Atletico Madrid
The bad guy that this girl wants to see. There is an argument for labelling Simeone as the most impressive manager in world football over the last four years. Yes, even including Pep.
Taking over from Gregorio Manzano in December 2011, Simeone found Atleti in ninth place in La Liga, with 16 points from 12 games and knocked out of the Copa del Rey by third tier Albacete. Since then he has guided the club to four consecutive top-three finishes, their first league title for 18 years, first Copa del Rey for 17 years, first Spanish Super Cup for 29 years, first European Cup final appearance for 40 years and the Europa League and UEFA Super Cup in 2012.
All Simeone’s achievements have been in the face of Spanish football’s financially bloated duopoly. The latest Deloitte Football Money Report saw Real Madrid and Barcelona rank 1st and 2nd in Europe according to revenue. Atleti were in 15th, below Schalke and Tottenham and two places above Newcastle. And Roman Abramovich is worried about his style of play?
Massimiliano Allegri – Juventus
Allegri’s strong links to Chelsea – he is the odds-on favourite to take over this summer – are slightly surprising, because there still doesn’t seem to be a consensus on whether he’s any good. On the one hand you’ve got Juventus’ stroll to the Serie A title and march to the Champions League final, plus Milan’s 2011 Scudetto. On the other you have his subsequent Milanese decline, ending in his sacking with the club 11th in the league and six points above the relegation zone.
There must also be doubts about Allegri’s ability to overhaul a squad and attract star players to Chelsea, neither of which he has experience in. Throw in a complete lack of experience outside of Italy, and you have a story that is worth keeping an eye on.
Thomas Tuchel – Borussia Dortmund
Having taken over a squad low on performance and morale after the departure of Jurgen Klopp, Tuchel has done an expert job at Dortmund. Having been one point off the bottom of the Bundesliga a year ago, Dortmund are now second, eight points behind Guardiola’s Bayern Munich.
Still just 42, this is the second big success story of Tuchel’s coaching career. He led Mainz to fifth in his first season as manager, turning down approaches from Schalke and Bayer Leverkusen to stay with the club. He left his position in May 2014 through a desire to take a break from the game.
It seems to have worked a treat, with Dortmund enjoying a 74% win percentage during Tuchel’s early tenure. With Carlo Ancelotti already installed as Pep’s replacement at Bayern, could he be the Next Big Managerial Thing to come to England from the Bundesliga?
Antonio Conte – Italy
There was widespread shock in Turin when Conte announced that he would be leaving Juventus in July 2014. The assumption was that he would see out the last year of his contract after bringing great success to the club.
Instead, Conte hopped over to the Italian national job, where things have ticked along very nicely indeed. The Azzurri didn’t exactly set Euro 2016 qualifying alight (they only scored 16 goals in ten games), but were one of only four undefeated teams.
Negotiate Italy safely through a difficult group in France this summer and to the latter stages of the tournament, and big clubs may be fluttering their eyelashes firmly in Conte’s direction. He’s only lost 15 of his last 161 competitive matches as a coach.
Marcelo Bielsa – Unattached
The joker in the pack, out of work but never out of ideas. Bielsa is a manager who it feels like the Premier League needs to experience, just to find out whether he would sink or swim.
Bielsa is the headline-grabber, the cult hero who would fight Guardiola and Mourinho for space on the back pages. It is almost impossible to write 100 words on the Argentinean without writing 1,000, for there is so much material to cover.
The signature formation, the influence on many other coaches, the distinct style of pressing, the three-hour press conferences, the outbursts at supporters, players and colleagues, the physical demands of his players, the potential to walk out at any moment. It’s all there.
This is a man who Guardiola describes as a “football genius”, yet has been out of work since leaving Marseille after the first game of this season. You wouldn’t necessarily want Bielsa at your big club, but you’d love to have him in your league.