Premier League • England

Graham Potter sack report latest: Zinedine Zidane speculation addressed as pressure eases after win over Leeds

Zinedine Zidane, former Real Madrid manager, during LaLiga game v Barcelona at Bernabeu

Former Chelsea midfielder Emmanuel Petit has addressed reports that the Blues are lining up a move to appoint Zinedine Zidane as a replacement for under-fire manager Graham Potter.

The 47-year-old Englishman has proved a hugely-unpopular appointment by the Blues faithful having stepped into the shoes of Champions League winning coach Thomas Tuchel.

Indeed, while co-owner Todd Boehly remains determined to give Potter more time, reports claim there are portions of the Blues board who want Potter axed.

To that end, Chelsea went into Saturday’s match at home to Leeds needing a big result. And they managed to pick up three points, with Wesley Fofana scoring the only goal in a 1-0 victory.

Despite this, pressure is still building on Potter’s shoulders. And he will also need a positive result when Chelsea tackle Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday. The Blues trail 1-0 against the Bundesliga leaders heading into the second leg at Stamford Bridge. And anything less than a win will see the Blues crash out at the first knockout stage.

Their elimination from the Champions League could make Potter’s job untenable.

Furthermore, with Chelsea struggling in mid-table, a return to Europe’s elite competition looks out of their grasp now for next season.

To that end, speculation is ramping up that Chelsea could turn to one of a number of potential replacements.

Mauricio Pochettino is one such under consideration, while talk of a third stint at Stamford Bridge for Jose Mourinho is also doing the rounds.

However, this week a new name has entered the running in the form of a highly-rated Premier League manager.

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Zinedine Zidane to Chelsea chances dismissed

One name that has been persistently linked with Chelsea is Zidane. The French legend has been out of work since stepping down at Real Madrid in summer 2021 and is reportedly eager to make a return to management.

And while he has been strongly linked with both PSG and the France national team job, Chelsea’s name has been mentioned of late.

Speaking earlier this year, Zidane was coy when questioned about a possible return to the dug-out.

“Am I still able to contribute things as a coach? Yes, many things, or I think at least some.

“I want to continue with that career because I still have the desire – it is my passion. I am 50 years old, fulfilled, I’m happy – that’s the most important thing.”

Having led Los Blancos to three successive Champions League crowns, it is easy to see why he is a man in demand.

However, his former France teammate is is adamant that Zidane will not be moving to Stamford Bridge.

“I may be wrong, but I don’t believe for a second in the rumour of Zizou going to Chelsea,” he told RMC Sport.

“Zidane’s future doesn’t lie in England, it lies elsewhere. Zidane has openly said that he preferred a more polished and technical game. He does not speak English, even if I believe that he takes lessons. But a dressing room today is populated by several nationalities.

‘Boehly a problem for Zidane’

“Knowing his way of managing a locker room, he likes proximity, being interested in people before the player. And so you have to be able to communicate and speak the language.

“In England, many coaches have been mocked in press conferences because they don’t didn’t speak the language, like in France too. After a while, that creates a gap in understanding.”

Petit insists that, despite the lavish sums Chelsea can spend, Zidane will not be tempted by the Blues.

He also reckos the management of co-owner Boehly is also problematic.

Petit added: “Why refuse Chelsea? Because if you look at the problem today, it’s that Potter has to manage more than 30 players at training in what is like a summer camp.

“Chelsea had the means, but today Financial Fair Play is considering changing its rules because of them, so we can believe that the club will not be able to continue at this rate of transfers. [Qualifying for] The Champions League will be necessary for them otherwise they will no longer be inside Financial Fair Play. So they will be condemned since they are 10th in the Premier League and they will not win the Champions League this year.”

Turning the heat on Boehly, Petit concluded: “It’s Boehly’s choice, but he doesn’t understand anything about football. If he only wants bling-bling as he has done for six months, there are other coaches who know the Premier League much better.”

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