Next Chelsea manager: Nagelsmann, Pochettino, Zidane – who should replace Potter?

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Graham Potter and Julian Nagelsmann
Graham Potter and Julian Nagelsmann

As the season reaches its climax there are several big-name, title-winning managers on the market waiting for their next opportunity.

And now two of the Premier League’s big six are looking for a new boss after Chelsea sacked Graham Potter on Sunday.

European football journalist Guillem Balague believes Julian Nagelsmann could be in the running for the Stamford Bridge hotseat.

But the German has also been linked with Tottenham, who have Cristian Stellini in temporary charge until the summer after the exit of Antonio Conte.

Leicester, who sacked Brendan Rodgers on Sunday, are also on the lookout for a new boss.

So who are the out-of-work managers hoping for a call – and what would they offer?

Julian Nagelsmann

Julian Nagelsmann, still only 35, finds himself out of work for the first time in his seven-year managerial career after his recent sacking at Bayern.

Nagelsmann turned down an offer from Real Madrid in 2018 and is likely to be near the top of the list for any elite team looking for a new boss.

He was expected to be a prime candidate for Tottenham but Balague thinks the Blues are more likely.

Before the news of Potter’s exit, he said on BBC Radio 5 Live: “Julian Nagelsmann has a great relationship with the owner of Chelsea [Todd Boehly].

“Chelsea are looking for a name, a personality, someone big enough to deal with what Chelsea has. If they eventually decide to get rid of Graham Potter… I put Nagelsmann at the top of that list.”

European football journalist Julien Laurens said: “You can find the Bayern sacking harsh, as they could win the treble, but if you look a bit deeper there were issues, some big ones, on and off the pitch with the relationship with his own dressing room.”

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Mauricio Pochettino

Pochettino, 51, did well at Espanyol, Southampton and Tottenham – whom he led to the Champions League final where they lost to Liverpool – but his only silverware has been at PSG.

He has been out of work since leaving the French side last summer.

Balague said: “There’s a gap at Spurs, maybe he is on the shortlist. But I know there’s been a call, not from [Spurs chairman] Daniel Levy, but indirectly to Pochettino to see if he would be happy to take the job and I think the answer is yes.

“Let’s see if that’s enough to convince Daniel Levy that Poch should return.”

But since Potter’s exit, Pochettino has become one of the early favourites for the Chelsea job.

Luis Enrique

Luis Enrique, 52, won a treble and double in his three seasons as Barcelona manager.

He left his role as Spain boss after their World Cup exit to Morocco – and is another early frontrunner in the Chelsea bookmaker odds.

“He says he only reads English media,” said Balague. “He does want to move to the Premier League next but there’s a problem.

“There are not many jobs he would take because he only wants to go to a team that can win things or do interesting things and that does not leave a very big list.”

Zinedine Zidane

Zidane, 50, remains something of a managerial enigma, despite being the second most decorated boss in European Cup history.

In just five years in charge of Real Madrid, across two spells, the France legend won three Champions Leagues and two Spanish titles – but it is still uncertain how he would do at another team.

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Balague said: “Zidane is not in a rush. He needs to find the right place to do his thing.

“That will either be Real Madrid again, the national side of France, Juventus if they call, but if no-one calls that’s not a problem.”

Antonio Conte

Conte might be on the market for a new job but is unlikely to fill the Chelsea vacancy, having previously managed the club between 2016 and 2018.

Until his recent spell as Tottenham boss – which ended after he called his players “selfish” and criticised the club’s culture – Conte was as close to a guarantee of success as you could get.

His previous three managerial jobs over a decade – Juventus, Chelsea and Inter Milan – all ended with league titles.

However the 53-year-old probably needs a break, having recently recovered from gallbladder surgery.

Three of his close friends – Spurs fitness coach Gian Piero Ventrone and former footballers Sinisa Mihajlovic and Gianluca Vialli – have also died in the past six months.

Who else could Chelsea turn to?

Of course Chelsea – who seem to have no shortage of money – might turn to one of the many quality managers still in work.

Italian boss Roberto de Zerbi has really caught the eye this season since he replaced Potter at Brighton.

The Seagulls are sixth, five points above Chelsea. The 43-year-old has also impressed with Benevento, Sassuolo and Shakhtar Donetsk – whom he left top of the Ukrainian league before the invasion of Russia.

Alternatively Chelsea could look just seven miles down the road at Brentford boss Thomas Frank. The 49-year-old Dane got the Bees promoted from the Championship and they are currently level on points with Brighton.

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Diego Simeone has done a sensational job at Atletico Madrid since taking over in 2011, winning two La Liga titles and reaching two Champions League finals.

But at some stage the Argentine will need a new challenge. Could this be it?

Or there is another unemployed boss Chelsea could look at… who used to work for the club.

Brendan Rodgers, sacked by Leicester hours before Potter’s exit, was the Blues’ reserve boss from 2006 to 2008.

Stranger things have happened.

Or how about John Terry, one of Chelsea’s all-time legends?

The 42-year-old former captain, who led the club to 15 trophies, joined Chelsea as a coaching consultant in 2022 after leaving his role as Aston Villa assistant.

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