Mauricio Pochettino: Five possible replacements to succeed Argentine as Chelsea manager

Pochettino left the club by mutual consent on Tuesday after one season despite clear signs of progress

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Chelsea have entered the market for their fourth permanent manager in two years after Mauricio Pochettino left the club by mutual consent on Tuesday.

Despite a strong end to the season that saw the Blues win five matches in a row to qualify for Europe while retaining the support of the squad, Pochettino exits after just one turbulent term. After signs of stability over the past few months under the Argentine, Chelsea have gone back to the drawing board.

The incoming manager will have a young and talented squad at his disposal, but will also have to deal with an executive structure that struggled to work cohesively with predecessors Pochettino and Thomas Tuchel.

As the Blues assess their options, they enter a market more competitive than usual, with Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Juventus, and AC Milan all seeking new managers.

So, who are the viable candidates to become the next manager at Stamford Bridge?

Roberto De Zerbi

The manager many Chelsea fans wanted last summer instead of Pochettino, De Zerbi is available after leaving Brighton & Hove Albion by mutual consent at the end of the season. The Italian made a major impact at Brighton, guiding the club into Europe while playing vibrant and exciting football. There was regression this season, which is hardly surprising after the Seagulls sold their two best midfielders and suffered injuries to key players.

De Zerbi, whom Pep Guardiola rates as one of the best managers in the world, will have no shortage of options this summer, and while Chelsea are among the potential suitors, they face competition from Bayern and Juve.

There is also the risk that, like Pochettino and Tuchel before him, the combustible De Zerbi will face similar issues with the club's hierarchy.

Kieran McKenna

McKenna is one of the most in-demand managers in English football following his remarkable job in leading Ipswich Town to promotion to the Premier League. The Blues have been linked with the 38-year-old Englishman, but so have Brighton and Manchester United.

Brighton are reportedly keen to get a deal done quickly to fend off interest from bigger clubs, but reaching an agreement with Ipswich, who are understandably desperate to keep hold of their manager, will take time.

As for Chelsea, despite his impressive feats with Ipswich, McKenna doesn't feel like the right fit at this time; the Blues would be appointing an inexperienced manager at a time when they need experience. Perhaps that is part of the appeal for the ownership group, who clearly want someone they can align with their methods.

Ruben Amorim

Considered a frontrunner to succeed Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, Amorim has impressed during his short managerial career so far. He led Portuguese side Braga to a third-place league finish in 2019/20 and shocked Porto in the final to win the League Cup.

After one season he moved to Sporting Lisbon and returned the former giants to past glories, ending a 19-year wait for the league title and winning it again this season. Amorim has also won two League Cups with Sporting.

The 39 year old, who also held talks with West Ham, has said he is happy to remain in Portugal but recently admitted he doesn't know "what tomorrow will bring". It would be a surprise if Chelsea don't at least hold preliminary talks with Amorim.

Thomas Tuchel

The dream scenario for many Chelsea fans. Tuchel spent just two seasons at Stamford Bridge but is still afforded legendary status for leading the club to the Champions League title in 2021. He then brought calm and stability to the squad during a time of great turbulence amid government-imposed sanctions. Despite the many problems behind the scenes, Chelsea still secured a top-four finish and successive FA Cup finals under Tuchel.

Tuchel's time at Bayern Munich is about to come to an end after a forgettable Bundesliga season that saw their 11-year title-winning run come to an emphatic end by an unstoppable Bayer Leverkusen. Still, a fine Champions League campaign led to suggestions Bayern might reverse their decision and ask him to stay.

As it stands, Tuchel is heading for the Bayern exit and there are reports that initial talks have been held with both Chelsea and Manchester United. It would seem a long shot that the German would return to Stamford Bridge, given the reasons for his exit in September 2022; the same board and owners, with whom Tuchel struggled to get on the same page, are still in place, so little would change if they decided to rekindle their relationship.

That said, stranger things have happened in football, and perhaps aware he will have the unconditional backing of the fans, he could be tempted by a return under the right conditions.

Julian Nagelsmann

A manager who's been on Chelsea's radar for some time. Could this summer finally be the time Nagelsmann makes his move to Stamford Bridge?

Long regarded as one of the brightest young managers in world football and still only 36, Nagelsmann will lead Germany at this summer's European Championship on home turf. However, his contract expires in July and he will surely be in demand regardless of how the hosts perform this summer.

Following fine spells at Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig, Nagelsmann made the inevitable move to Bayern but after an inconsistent run and a falling out with influential board members, was sacked 18 months into a five-year contract.

Chelsea are expected to make contact for initial talks, but whether the German would be interested in joining a club that shows no signs of stability is the big question.

Updated: May 22, 2024, 7:30 AM