Chelsea are set to step up their search for a new head coach following confirmation of Maurizio Sarri's departure for Juventus just a single season into his three-year deal at Stamford Bridge.

Frank Lampard is the favourite to take over and the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Roberto Di Matteo have lined up in support of the Blues great.

The former England midfielder would be a popular figure on the touchline and has seemingly had the role on his radar since concluding his playing spell with the club in 2014.

But with just 12 months of managerial experience at Championship side Derby County on his resume, the appointment of Lampard to a first top-flight job - and one that carries a firm demand for silverware - would represent a considerable gamble for Chelsea and Lampard alike.

Who else, then, could Roman Abramovich pursue?

 

Nuno Espirito Santo - Wolves

The Portuguese is very much a coach on the rise. Wolves charged out of the Championship in Nuno's first season at the helm and finished a highly respectable seventh in the Premier League, while the two other promoted teams, Fulham and Cardiff City, succumbed to immediate relegation. Sceptics will question whether the resources afforded by Jorge Mendes' association with the club have led to an overestimation of Nuno's talents, but victories against Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea marked him out as a manager of serious pedigree. Nuno is in a comfortable position at Wolves and it would be difficult to convince Mendes to let his client leave a project that is still in its infancy.

Javi Gracia - Watford

Like Nuno, Gracia has won plaudits for his work in a short space of time at a mid-table Premier League team. The former Malaga boss guided Watford to 50 points – nine more than they managed the previous campaign – and a trip to the FA Cup final in an encouraging 2018-19 season. His quiet demeanour has just as effectively instituted a sense of a calm and continuity at a club that has operated a revolving door for coaches in recent times, an environment analogous to Chelsea's. Managerial spells in Greece, Russia and his native Spain are sure to have honed the 49-year-old's capacity to oversee a cosmopolitan dressing room.

Erik ten Hag - Ajax

Chelsea wanted entertaining football from Sarri. This could be the man to deliver it. Ajax were a joy to watch during their thrilling run to the Champions League semi-finals, Ten Hag successfully moulding a youthful, talented team that passed the ball with aplomb and showed no fear in knocking out Real Madrid and Juventus. Formerly in charge of Bayern Munich's reserves, Ten Hag arrived at Ajax via a successful period at Eredivisie rivals Utrecht and can take at least a portion of the credit for the development of Matthijs de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong and Donny van de Beek, among others. Appointing a coach with a knack for fostering emerging talents could be a shrewd move for a club that may have to look to its academy as the solution to a transfer embargo.

Ralf Rangnick - RB Leipzig

Reports in recent days describe Rangnick as a newcomer to Chelsea's shortlist of coaching contenders. It would take an abrupt change in direction for the German to land in London: Rangnick has already agreed to become the head of sport and soccer development for Red Bull when his contract with RB Leipzig expires at the end of June. Premier League links are not new, however, with Everton said to have weighed up his credentials following the dismissal of Ronald Koeman in 2017. Ragnick, in his role as sporting director, is considered the brains behind Leipzig's maturation into a high-achieving Bundesliga outfit and has had two separate spells as their head coach, most recently warming the seat for Julian Nagelsmann during the 2018-19 season. Strong results with Schalke and Hoffenheim helped establish him as one of the game's foremost minds in Germany.

Massimiliano Allegri - unemployed

The most qualified man on the shortlist appears the least likely to take on the job. That seems to be the message after Sarri's predecessor at Juve decided he would like to take a 12-month break from coaching. Allegri, who won five Serie A titles in Turin, was linked with Barcelona in the aftermath of his exit from Allianz Stadium and will continue to be mentioned in connection with big roles until his future is resolved. Chelsea's next manager will hope Allegri's availability does not become a distraction.

Former Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri said he has been forced to take a year off from football after not receiving any offers.

Allegri and Juve parted ways following an eighth consecutive Serie A title in 2018-19 and fifth under the Italian's leadership.

The 51-year-old has been linked with Premier League giants Chelsea, who are reportedly poised to grant Maurizio Sarri a release ahead of his proposed move to Juve.

However, ex-AC Milan boss Allegri is set for some time away from the dugout following his Turin exit.

"Well my decision was even easier to take than I expected given that I haven't got an offer from any team," Allegri said. "So I have to stop.

"We are here today in this warm weather let's have a nice run and then we are ready for holidays."

Allegri was a surprise appointment at Juve in July 2014, his arrival initially met with some disapproval by the fans, but he added four Coppa Italia triumphs and two Champions League finals to his five top-flight crowns.

 

Massimiliano Allegri has confirmed he will take a year off from football after calling time on his trophy-laden spell with Juventus.

The 51-year-old won five Serie A titles with Juve before stepping down as head coach at the end of the 2018-19 campaign.

Allegri had been linked with a possible switch to Chelsea, with Blues boss Maurizio Sarri primed to move in the opposite direction, but he will instead take time to focus on personal matters.

"I am going to take a year off to recharge the batteries and get my personal life back in hand, rediscover after many years the affection of my family, children and friends," he said at an event in Milan on Thursday.

"The last 16 years have felt like being in a blender. You have to take time away from what you usually spend with family and friends.

"I'll use this year to recharge my batteries ahead of the next season."

Allegri was a surprise appointment at Juve in July 2014, his arrival initially met with some disapproval by the fans, but he added four Coppa Italia triumphs and two Champions League finals to his five top-flight crowns.

Massimiliano Allegri insists he has no issues with taking a year out from football if the right opportunity does not present itself following his Juventus exit.

Allegri's last game in charge of Juventus ended in a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Sampdoria on Sunday courtesy of late goals from Gregoire Defrel and Gianluca Caprari.

The 51-year-old head coach has been linked with a number of jobs around Europe – including Chelsea and Bayern Munich – but Allegri said he will not rush into his next move and is prepared to wait for as long as it takes to find the perfect role.

"When there is an opportunity, I will return to the bench, otherwise I will take a year off," he told DAZN after the defeat to Sampdoria.  

"If I have the opportunity to choose, I will choose a team that I like. Concrete offers? Still no. Talking about the future now makes no sense."

Allegri has won Serie A in each of his five seasons at the Allianz Arena and believes his successor will inherit a team significantly stronger than any other in Italy.

"Whoever arrives will find a team clearly stronger than the others," he added. "There is a 90 per cent chance of winning the league again."

Allegri has been given a warm send-off by Juve supporters since the decision was announced last week and he is pleased to be leaving the Italian giants on positive terms.

"At the stadium they were all affectionate; on social networks some hide," he said. "I am a detached person, but the affection has had a beautiful effect and I'm glad I leave with good memories."

Juventus failed to give Massimiliano Allegri a winning send-off as late goals from Gregoire Defrel and Gianluca Caprari secured a 2-0 win for Sampdoria on Sunday.

The Old Lady have made a habit of winning under Allegri during his five years in charge, lifting five successive league titles, though they fell short of those standards in Genoa and dropped points for a fifth Serie A game on the bounce.

There was a distinct end-of-season feel to the majority of the first half, with excitement lacking and clear-cut chances at a premium.

Proceedings picked up at the start of the second period, with Juve going close three times and having a Moise Kean goal disallowed, but Sampdoria's more clinical finishing saw them claim victory.

Defrel opened the scoring six minutes from time and Caprari's gorgeous free-kick allowed Samp to finish the season in style.

Arsenal defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos believes Unai Emery has done more for his development in a single season than former mentors Jurgen Klopp and Massimiliano Allegri.

Ex-Sevilla boss Emery could win the Europa League for the fourth time when the Gunners meet Chelsea in the final in Baku on Wednesday.

Getting the better of Maurizio Sarri's side would secure Champions League participation next season and answer some of the critics who have questioned the Spaniard following a fifth-place finish in the Premier League.

Greece international Sokratis has had an intimate view of Emery's methods and rates him above the other high-profile coaches he has played under, including Allegri at AC Milan and Klopp and Thomas Tuchel during his time with Borussia Dortmund.

"He's the best coach I [have] had in my career," the 30-year-old told The Guardian.

"That's because I have improved a lot under him. I play faster than one, two or three years ago.

"I think more and I make better decisions and his coaches do a lot of individual work with us. You can also see that because of the number of young players coming through."

Sokratis is likely to start in Azerbaijan as Arsenal attempt to complete a fine run that has taken them past BATE, Rennes, Napoli and Valencia in the knockout rounds.

They beat Chelsea in the Premier League in January but finished two points behind the Blues in a tight tussle for the Champions League places.

"Chelsea has a good team. Very good players. We respect them. We are not afraid," Sokratis said.

"It's one game. One final. We like to be there. We like to win. We want to play next year in the Champions League."

Massimiliano Allegri kept his final pre-match news conference as Juventus coach short and sweet, but did reveal that Cristiano Ronaldo will be rested against Sampdoria.

Bianconeri coach Allegri will depart the Allianz Stadium at the end of the season after five hugely successful years in charge, during which time Juve won five Serie A titles and reached two Champions League finals.

Allegri's last match is against Sampdoria on the final day of the league season on Sunday, but the 51-year-old, who has already discussed his exit at length, saw no need for an extended meeting with the media.

"There is nothing to talk about," he said. "I am here to greet you, give you the team and go."

Star striker Ronaldo has been included in Portugal's squad for the Nations League Finals next month and Allegri said it was important for the former Real Madrid man to rest.

However, it does mean he cannot finish as Serie A's top scorer as he is already five goals behind current leading marksman Fabio Quagliarella.

Moise Kean - reportedly set for a new deal - and Paulo Dybala, who insisted this week that he wants to stay in Turin, will instead start up front.

Meanwhile, Wojciech Szczesny is being assessed for a knee injury and will miss out.

Allegri named Matheus Pereira in his XI but added that Leonardo Spinazzola will instead start if he is available on Sunday.

The departing coach, who was sporting a new-look shaven head, added: "Let's go for a good game and finish in style against a team that have a great season - we must also acknowledge [Sampdoria coach Marco] Giampaolo for his work.

"Then we go to the beach and get some sun. I have been told to take my sun cream, protection 50."

He told the media: "I thank you all. Now we say goodbye and I will make a toast together with you all at the end of the season."

Massimiliano Allegri has claimed his Juventus successor will be "a manager of Manchester" amid speculation linking Pep Guardiola with a shock move to Turin.

On Thursday, Italian news agency AGI reported Manchester City boss Guardiola had agreed a four-year contract worth €24million annually to take over at Serie A champions Juve, claiming the deal will be announced on June 4 before a presentation 10 days later.

Speaking before City completed an unprecedented domestic treble by hammering Watford 6-0 in last weekend's FA Cup final, Guardiola insisted he had no intention of moving to Juventus and club board member Alberto Galassi told Sky Italia the renewed reports were "a load of nonsense".

However, Allegri made a mischievous contribution to the saga when he attended a restaurant opening in Dairago, Milan.

Local newspaper Sport Legnano reported Allegri was asked by a Juventus fan who the club's next head coach would be and he replied: "A manager of Manchester is coming."

Allegri confirmed last week he would leave Juventus after guiding them to a fifth consecutive Scudetto this term.

Success in the Champions League proved elusive for the former AC Milan boss, however, with Ajax ending the Italian club’s interest at the quarter-final stage this time around, following final losses to Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively in 2015 and 2017 finals.

Guardiola has two years remaining on his current City contract and has swept to five of the previous six major domestic honours on offer in England.

Giorgio Chiellini has hailed Cristiano Ronaldo as "a deity" who has helped Juventus cope with Gianluigi Buffon's departure last year.

The Bianconeri pulled off a coup in July when they lured five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo to Turin after nine trophy-laden years with Real Madrid.

Ronaldo scored 21 goals in 31 games in his first season in Serie A as Juve retained the Scudetto while the 34-year-old Portuguese also netted six times during the team's run to the Champions League quarter-finals.

Chiellini feels Juve needed a player of Ronaldo's stature after Buffon departed for Paris Saint-Germain.

"He is a deity, a superior entity," Chiellini told Tuttosport.

"It was very important to fill the void that Gigi left.

"Cristiano was an example for everyone, with his dedication to work. He integrated perfectly into the city."

Though Massimiliano Allegri guided Juventus to an eighth successive Serie A title, it was announced last week that he was leaving the club having won the Scudetto in each of his five campaigns at the helm.

Given that success, Chiellini would not be surprised to see the 51-year-old return to the Allianz Stadium in the future.

"He probably did something unrepeatable," Chiellini added.

"That's why I wouldn't be surprised to see him again at Juve in a few years.

"The love that Max has for Juventus and vice versa is so great that tomorrow they can be found again quietly."

Miralem Pjanic has praised Massimiliano Allegri for "making everything work in the best way" during his time in charge at Juventus.

Allegri will take charge of Juve for the final time on Sunday when the Serie A champions travel to Sampdoria, bringing the curtain down on his hugely successful tenure in Turin.

The former AC Milan boss has won the league five times and also the Coppa Italia on four occasions since taking over in 2014.

Pjanic arrived from Roma two years into Allegri's reign but has been impressed by the way the Italian has continually pushed a star-studded squad to get better.

"We are a fantastic group and I have to congratulate our coach, who has always managed to make everything work in the best way," he said at a club event on Thursday at the Allianz Stadium.

"With him, we managed to win. In football you always have to work to improve, I have always had this mentality."

Allegri departs after Juve once again failed to crack the Champions League, losing at the quarter-final stage to Ajax despite the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo.

On the Portuguese superstar, Pjanic added: "His concentration levels have always been out of the ordinary, both when things are going well and also when that's not the case."

The Bosnia-Herzegovina international – who has been linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain – also revealed he turned down the chance to represent France, having moved to the country as a teenager to join Metz.

"I left my country, Bosnia, very young because of the coming war. I lived in Luxembourg, a very small country, then I moved by myself to France, still young, to follow the dream of football," Pjanic explained.

"I am happy to have chosen to play for Bosnia even if I could have played for France instead. I was only 18 at the time and [France coach] Raymond Domenech called me to see what my plans were.

"I went to see a Bosnia-Denmark game when I was 13 and from that moment on, I knew I wanted to represent Bosnia."

Former Juventus boss Alberto Zaccheroni believes the Turin club's fans will look back fondly on Massimiliano Allegri in years to come.

The 51-year-old Allegri is set to leave the Allianz Stadium at the end of the season after five successful campaigns in which they were crowned Serie A champions each year.

He had previously been a rival of Juve at AC Milan and replaced club legend Antonio Conte in charge in 2014, while some fans have grown frustrated with the team's style of play this season and their inability to win the Champions League.

But Zaccheroni, who was head coach in 2010, believes Allegri will become a popular figure down the line.

"Allegri has been great," he told Omnisport.

"You can achieve success in different ways, but Allegri wants balance and looks after the defence and the attack, just like Antonio Conte. Maybe there are differences in intensity.

"Conte has always been a Juventus icon and managed to take Juventus back to their level and this leads to the fans loving him more than Allegri. Juventus fans will love Allegri in the future…"

One of the names touted as a potential replacement for Allegri is Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi, whom Zaccheroni coached during his playing days at the capital club.

The 66-year-old admits he has been taken aback by seeing Inzaghi forge a successful coaching career.

"Having managed him as a player, he didn't look so determined," Zaccheroni said. "I remember he was very passionate about football. But I didn't expect him to become a manager. He lacked determination.

"He had quality as a player although he could have achieved much more. He still had a very decent career, but I didn't see that determination in him that he could pass on to his players."

Didier Deschamps says his future remains with France amid speculation he is wanted as the next Juventus head coach.

The Serie A champions have begun searching for a replacement for Massimiliano Allegri, after it was announced he will leave at the end of the season.

Deschamps, who led France to World Cup glory in Russia last year, is reportedly among the contenders for the role.

But at a news conference on Tuesday, the 50-year-old dismissed speculation he could return to Juve, where he was in charge for the 2006-07 season.

"It's a kind question... What am I going to say?" Deschamps told reporters.

"The situation is clear today: my mind, my energy is focused on qualifying for the Euros, and I hope France will play in that Euros.

"It's very clear, even if it's always nice to hear that big clubs are talking about me, and Juventus are among them.

"But my near future is the French team. There are no doors to open - it's crystal clear."

Kylian Mbappe's future has also been making headlines after the France striker hinted he was considering leaving Paris-Saint Germain.

Mbappe was reportedly a target for Real Madrid a year ago and the 20-year-old is again being linked with the LaLiga giants after suggesting he was keen on a "new project".

"Surprised… In today's world, nothing surprises me," Deschamps said when asked about Mbappe's comments. "Information is leaking all the time.

"I'm not used to commenting on what players are saying, whether they are in my team or not. I'll have a chance to talk to Kylian, as happened during our previous gatherings and like I do with other players.

"It is what it is: one day it's him, one day it's someone else. Of course, when it's Kylian, it becomes bigger and more important."

Former Juventus head coach Marcello Lippi hinted to Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino or Chelsea's Maurizio Sarri potentially replacing Massimiliano Allegri at the Serie A champions.

Allegri will leave Juventus after Sunday's trip to Sampdoria and five consecutive Scudetto titles, and talk about who will succeed the 51-year-old in Turin has dominated headlines.

Chelsea boss and former Napoli coach Sarri has been linked with a return to Italy after just one season in the Premier League, while Pochettino has emerged as a possible candidate among the likes of Simone Inzaghi and Antonio Conte.

Sarri and Pochettino will feature in upcoming European finals, with Chelsea to face Arsenal in the Europa League decider (May 29) and Tottenham set to meet Liverpool in the Champions League (June 1) showpiece.

And Lippi – who led Juventus to five Serie A trophies during his time in charge – alluded a coaching announcement could come after the two finals.

"Why hasn't a well-run club like Juventus named the successor to Allegri yet, well it's a difficult decision to make, but perhaps they are waiting for a certain competition to end," the 71-year-old said.

"We'll see if their new coach comes from those involved in either of the all English Finals, then we will understand the reason for the delay of the announcement.

"This year the English clubs are the best in Europe, but these things go in cycles. I think Sarri has a great chance at winning the Europa League, then there is Pochettino whose family is from Piedmont."

Juventus – 11 points clear of Napoli atop the table – drew 1-1 with Atalanta in Allegri's final home match in charge of the club last week.

Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri has been inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame.

The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) recognised Allegri – who will leave the Serie A champions following Sunday's trip to Sampdoria – following five successive Scudetto triumphs and six in total.

Allegri led AC Milan to Serie A glory in 2010-11 before replacing Antonio Conte at Juve in 2014, resulting in a relentless run of success in Turin, where four Coppa Italia trophies and two Supercoppa Italiana crowns have followed.

The 51-year-old – who has been linked with Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain – received the award from Italian and Juve legend Marcello Lippi in Florence on Monday.

"Allegri is the only Italian coach to have won five Scudetti in a row. In total, he has six league titles, plus four Italian Cups and three Italian Super Cups," the statement read.

"He has already entered history as one of the most decorated coaches, and only at the age of 51. But Allegri will leave a mark because he is a winner who has not lost the sense of the game.

"He is rational and who accepts the irrational, and trains to enjoy the game that, as he says, was and will remain simple."

Allegri added: "I leave a team with a winning DNA. Even today I have the opportunity to thank all those who have worked with me over the past five years, who are valuable people, humans even before being a part of the technical team.

"Now that I have the honor of becoming part of the history of Italian football, I am happy to donate the medal symbolising the closure of this extraordinary cycle."

Juventus vice-president Pavel Nedved said the Italian champions have not decided who will replace outgoing head coach Massimiliano Allegri.

Allegri will leave Juve after Sunday's Serie A finale against Sampdoria and the likes of Chelsea's Maurizio Sarri and Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi have been linked.

Former coach Antonio Conte, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino and France boss Didier Deschamps have also emerged as potential replacements.

However, Nedved told Sky Sport Italia: "There will be some evaluations, we are in no rush and can take our time.

"It won't be easy, we know this era can never be repeated, so it'll be even more difficult.

"So far, we were evaluating what to do with Max, so did not contact any other coaches. We have ideas, including some pretty clear ones, but have made no decisions."

Nedved was speaking prior to Juve's 1-1 draw against Champions League-chasing Atalanta – Allegri's final home match in charge of the club.

Allegri will depart following five successive Serie A titles and a pair of Champions League runners-up medals.

"The club had to make a decision, we made it, I feel this era came to a natural end, without a specific reason. It was a very important cycle and I don't think it will ever be repeated again," Nedved added.

"Max won 11 trophies, almost everything we asked of him, so he deserves only praise and a great farewell. The same goes for [defender] Andrea Barzagli, as it is their celebration.

"There was no one reason, this experience just came to a natural end. Each of us had to say what we felt inside and that's where we ended up.

"Juve need to win trophies, Max did that, so he did a great job."

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