Chelsea are considering an attempt to lure former Tottenham boss Antonio Conte back to Stamford Bridge in the summer, according to reports.
The Blues sacked Graham Potter on Sunday following a defeat to Aston Villa on Saturday that saw them drop into the bottom half of the Premier League table.
The 2-0 loss at Stamford Bridge drew angry calls from home supporters for the manager to go after the team’s poor run of form extended to just four wins from 19 games in the league.
Potter had briefly looked to have revived his ailing tenure with three-consecutive wins before the international break, including victory against Borussia Dortmund that saw the side reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
It lent weight to the backing the former Brighton boss had enjoyed from owner Todd Boehly and his Clearlake Capital consortium.
However, confidence that he was the right man for the job was tested to its limit by the loss to Villa, which yet again saw Chelsea struggle to live up to expectations set by Boehly’s near-£600m transfer spend.
Coach Bruno Saltor, who was taken to Chelsea from Brighton when Potter took the job, took charge of Tuesday’s goalless draw to Liverpool on Tuesday night.
But now former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard is set to make his return to the club as an interim boss until the end of the current campaign, giving the Blues more time to find Potter’s long-term successor.
A number of managers, including Luis Enrique, Julian Nagelsmann and Brendan Rodgers, have been mentioned as possible positive replacements for Potter – but they are yet to decide on their next permanent manager.
And now The Independent claim that Chelsea are ‘considering a shock approach’ for their former boss Antonio Conte ‘in what would be another sensational development in their managerial search’.
Conte left Tottenham over the international break after he called his players “selfish” after they managed to throw away a two-goal lead against relegation-threatened Southampton.
The Chelsea hierarchy ‘are at least curious to see what the Italian can bring, as the last manager to win the title’ at Stamford Bridge and they ‘see him as a winner who can potentially bring structure to a huge squad’.
The report adds:
‘Such a move would not be a reflection on any of the candidates so far, especially as Luis Enrique is said to have greatly impressed – particularly with how he outlined his tactical vision for a 4-3-3 – but merely show that they want to take their time and give this appointment all due consideration.
‘The Independent has been told that there has been initial contact through intermediaries, and if all goes well with next steps there may be a direct meeting next week.’