Chelsea: Romano refutes Tuchel ‘talks’ as five ‘candidates’ named as Man Utd eye Pochettino

Jason Soutar

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna is one of four “candidates” in the frame to replace Mauricio Pochettino at Chelsea, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Chelsea sacked Pochettino on Tuesday following the club’s sixth-place finish in the Premier League.

The decision came as a surprise to many given the Blues’ strong end to the campaign but there has been lots of speculation surrounding the Argentine’s long-term future at Stamford Bridge.

Romano has revealed that many players are “saddened” by the decision but insists it should not be too much of a surprise given how “tense” it has been between Pochettino and his superiors since his arrival last year.

Plenty of names have already been linked with the Chelsea job since the club announced Pochettino’s departure on Tuesday evening, including former boss Thomas Tuchel.

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It is being widely reported that the Londoners want to bring in a young, progressive coach, with former managers Tuchel, Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho not being considered, nor is ex-Bayern Munich and Germany boss Hansi Flick.

Instead, Ipswich’s McKenna has quickly emerged as the frontrunner, while Roberto De Zerbi – who has just left Brighton – is a name being frequently mentioned.

As well as McKenna, Chelsea are targeting Stuttgart boss Sebastian Hoeness and Brentford head coach Thomas Frank, while Sporting’s Ruben Amorim is also being considered.

Tuchel to Chelsea? Fabrizio Romano says no

This is according to Romano, who says Tuchel is not a target, while Hoeness will be hard to sign due to his commitment to Stuttgart – who have just finished second in the Bundesliga to qualify for the Champions League.

“As I already reported, in case Chelsea wanted to replace Pochettino, and this is now the case, they would like to go for a young manager,” Romano said in his CaughtOffside column.

“Managers like Thomas Tuchel and Hansi Flick are all attracted by the possibility of going to Chelsea, even without Champions League football, but at the moment I’m not aware of concrete talks with these managers because the information I’m getting is that they want a young coach.

“Some candidates are being discussed internally, and there is big appreciation for Sebastian Hoeness, who is really highly rated after the job he’s done at Stuttgart. Still, Hoeness has already said no to the Bayern job and said that he wants to continue at Stuttgart.

“There are other candidates, though, such as Kieran McKenna at Ipswich Town. He’s done an excellent job, so he’s one of the names, not the only one as there’s not a clear favourite yet. Thomas Frank has also been discussed internally, but it’s an open discussion and Chelsea will take their time.

“I’m not aware yet of fresh contacts with Roberto de Zerbi or Ruben Amorim. We’ve had many rumours about these managers, but let’s see if they will decide to contact them or not. What I can guarantee is that Chelsea’s priority would be to go for a talented young manager to create a kind of Xabi Alonso project – someone who can lead the game with possession football and to understand the vision of the club around talented young players.

“Chelsea’s plan now is to have internal conversations and also to focus on the summer transfer window because they want their manager to be involved. They want a manager who can trust the entire project and to help develop young players and build the project for the present and future.

“The idea for this summer is also to explore the goalkeepers market, and they want a new striker, while they also want one centre-back or maybe two. They also need to clarify the future of players like Trevoh Chalobah and Conor Gallagher, so it will be crucial to clarify with the new manager what they want to do.”

Pochettino to Man Utd? Ten Hag ‘not sure he’s staying’ – Romano

Romano also discussed what Pochettino has lined up following his Blues exit, noting that a move to Manchester United is possible as the prospect of Erik ten Hag being sacked “remains absolutely open”.

“As for Pochettino, he is open for a new chapter and he feels absolutely ready for any opportunity. Despite reports of Pochettino being appreciated by some key figures at INEOS, there is nothing to say on Manchester United now for Pochettino, but in general the Erik ten Hag situation remains absolutely open and he’s not sure of staying at the club, I can confirm that.”

More: Chelsea | Who will replace Pochettino at Chelsea? | Erik ten Hag sack?