Chelsea have drawn up a managerial shortlist led by Julian Nagelsmann, Mauricio Pochettino, Luis Enrique and Roberto De Zerbi, but are prepared to go through their Champions League campaign with interim boss Bruno Saltor in charge as the priority is to get the appointment right for pre-season.
Figures at the club are talking about an “exhaustive search” as, like the departed Graham Potter, they want a coach who buys into the idea of developing a young squad with the most progressive methods and understands the new hierarchy’s plans for the club.
Chelsea had already started to consider this as far back as February, though, as the realisation dawned that the situation might not improve under Potter. It was then that the names were first considered but, unlike with the departure of Thomas Tuchel in September, it is being stressed that there is no scope for an immediate appointment.
Nagelsmann’s name has nevertheless featured most prominently in early discussions, following his own departure from Bayern Munich. There are claims from Germany that contact has already been made, but the 35-year-old is reluctant to jump straight back into another job.
There are numerous Red Bull connections within the Chelsea football staff, including technical director Christoph Vivell, and this has seen Nagelsmann talked about as a leading option. If co-owner Todd Boehly is to be convinced he is absolutely the right man, the club will be prepared to wait.
Pochettino previously held talks with Chelsea when Tuchel was sacked, and is understood to be open to the role despite his Tottenham Hotspur history.
His work with young players at White Hart Lane does stand out, especially given how Chelsea are now trying to shape the squad around a next generation of young talent. Similar applies to Enrique.
De Zerbi would naturally be keen on the jump but there are potential political complications there since that would mean Chelsea poaching two successive coaches from Brighton.
The Italian also has far less top-level experience than other candidates, the importance of which became apparent to the hierarchy in Potter’s tenure.