Chelsea ‘appointment’ coming ‘next week’ with ‘high-profile mystery’ contender not ‘ruled out’

Lewis Oldham
Chelsea target Roberto De Zerbi
Roberto De Zerbi has been linked as a replacement for Mauricio Pochettino at Stamford Bridge.

According to reports, Chelsea “expects” to appoint a new head coach “next week” as their stance on a “high-profile mystery” candidate has emerged.

The Blues made the shock decision to part ways with Mauricio Pochettino earlier this week.

The former Tottenham Hotspur boss endured a difficult debut season at Stamford Bridge as his youthful squad were punished for their inconsistency at times.

But Chelsea reached the Carabao Cup final and finished the Premier League season superbly as they finished sixth in the table to qualify for the Europa League.

Under Pochettino, the signs were positive heading into next season. Still, their board have opted to look elsewhere as the Argentinian was dismissed following an end-of-season meeting involving the head coach and key decision-makers.

Who will replace Pochettino at Stamford Bridge?

Chelsea’s decision to move on from Pochettino has become even more baffling since the list of candidates to replace him emerged.

Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna is among the favourites to replace Pochettino, but reporter Kaveh Solhekol has indicated that a “high-profile mystery” candidate is also under consideration.

He said: “Chelsea expect to appoint a new head coach by the end of next week.

“Leading candidates Thomas Frank, Enzo Maresca and Kieran McKenna. A high-profile mystery name also under consideration. New head coach will sign a longer contract than two-year deal Mauricio Pochettino accepted last summer.”

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A report from The Telegraph has dropped a hint that ex-Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi is the unnamed candidate Chelsea are considering. They have explained the club’s stance on appointing the respected Italian coach.

‘Telegraph Sport revealed on Thursday that Enzo Maresca, Kieran McKenna and Thomas Frank are on Chelsea’s four-man shortlist with the club making checks on all three candidates.

‘There has been no confirmation whether or not De Zerbi is officially the fourth unnamed coach on Chelsea’s shortlist. But it is understood the Italian has not yet been ruled out – even though, at this stage, he is considered by sources to be an outlier in the race to succeed Pochettino.’

‘Unlike Leicester City’s Maresca, Ipswich Town’s McKenna and Brentford’s Frank, De Zerbi is a free agent after leaving Brighton by mutual consent at the end of the season.

‘It is understood that Brighton would still be due around £5 million in compensation from any club that hires De Zerbi, which is much cheaper than the £15 million he would have cost while still employed by the club.

‘De Zerbi would have to demonstrate that he could work within Chelsea’s club structure, with sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart, to stand any chance of getting the job ahead of Maresca, McKenna and Frank.

‘The 44-year-old expressed frustration in the Brighton model last season and is viewed within football as a challenging character, although his attractive style of possession-based football would fit Chelsea’s brief.’

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