Premier League • England

Next Chelsea manager: Blues board divided as De Zerbi issues arise and McKenna verdict nears

Kieran McKenna and Roberto De Zerbi, Chelsea

Chelsea are stepping up their pursuit of a new manager

The Chelsea board is split over the potential appointment of Roberto de Zerbi as the club’s next manager, while the Blues are also keen on Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna, sources have confirmed to TEAMtalk.

Chelsea are in the process of trying to find a new manager to replace Mauricio Pochettino, who left the club on Tuesday as he and the board had different views on what direction the club should go. There have been many names mentioned but only a few have really been discussed.

Kieran McKenna is a favourite among the board and sources insist that the club want to speak with him about the vacancy. The Blues have used data to identify the best man to take over and the process has been ongoing since December as the club prepared for the possibility of bringing in a new manager.

They face major competition for McKenna’s signature though, as Brighton are pushing to land him ahead of Chelsea and Manchester United. This means Chelsea will potentially have to look at other options and sources have been clear that De Zerbi is under consideration at Stamford Bridge.

There are some issues however, as not everyone is fully aligned that De Zerbi is the man to take over the club. Indeed, the board is not fully sold on the idea of him taking over.

De Zerbi has backing from two of the major players though, with co-sporting director Paul Winstanley a big fan and co-owner Behdad Eghbali also an admirer.

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It is the latter who will make the final decision and this plays into the favour of the Italian coach. There have been some suggestions that McKenna is simply a smokescreen, but that is not true as the club are willing to hire a manager who has little experience but can grow and become one of the best in Europe.

Preliminary talks have been held with Thomas Frank, who has huge support within Chelsea and has been eyed for some time. But Frank is seen as difficult to shift out of Brentford right now.

Next Chelsea manager: De Zerbi, McKenna in frame

Sebastian Hoeness is someone who is seen as superb and he has aced the data sets used by the club to identify the next best man to take the reigns. He has already turned down Bayern Munich though and the chances of moving him from Stuttgart are seen as very unlikely.

Enzo Maresca is one to watch and if Chelsea fail to land their key targets he will become someone that is of more interest. Sources say he ticks all the boxes but there is some reservation he would take the step just yet.

Ruben Amorim, who has previously been linked with Liverpool and West Ham United, remains in the frame for the Chelsea job. The Portuguese is open to holding talks with Chelsea chiefs.

McKenna, meanwhile, has the choice of taking the Brighton job or going for an interview with Chelsea but if he is not the new man in West London, watch out for De Zerbi as his name continues to be batted around the boardroom.

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