Bayern Munich have sensationally sacked Julian Nagelsmann, and Thomas Tuchel is in line to take over.

While not officially confirmed by the German club, widespread reports on Thursday suggested Nagelsmann had been dismissed.

Bayern sit second in the Bundesliga, one point behind Borussia Dortmund, and it is one of their rivals' former coaches who is favourite to replace Nagelsmann.

 

TOP STORY – TUCHEL SIGNS BAYERN DEAL

According to Fabrizio Romano, Tuchel – who was sacked by Chelsea in September – has already agreed to become Bayern's new coach.

Tuchel's first game would be against his former team Dortmund on April 1.

Bayern face Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-finals. Nagelsmann, meanwhile, is sure to be linked with plenty of high-profile job opportunities.

ROUND UP

- The Sun, citing a Sport Bild report, claim that Eintracht Frankfurt have placed an £88million (€99.7m) price tag on Manchester United target Randal Kolo Muani.

- The father of Brighton and Hove Albion's Alexis Mac Allister has informed ESPN no clubs are in concrete talks with his son, but that there are interested parties.

- According to 90min, Chelsea, Newcastle United and Manchester City are all scouting Juventus winger Samuel Iling-Junior.

- Fabrizio Romano says that Barcelona, Real Madrid and Liverpool are interested in Florian Wirtz, though Bayer Leverkusen are confident of keeping hold of the youngster.

Joao Cancelo was shocked to hear Bayern Munich have reportedly sacked Julian Nagelsmann but asked his potential new coach Thomas Tuchel to help him win the Champions League.

Reports emerged on Thursday suggesting Bayern had elected to dismiss Nagelsmann and replace the 35-year-old with former Chelsea, Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain coach Tuchel.

Bayern are into the quarter-finals of the Champions League – they will face Cancelo's parent club Manchester City for a place in the last four – and sit second in the Bundesliga, trailing Dortmund, who they play on April 1, by one point.

Cancelo started the scoring in Portugal's 4-0 rout of Liechtenstein in Euro 2024 qualifying on Thursday, and was subsequently made aware of the Nagelsmann rumours at full-time.

"I didn't know. I was a little surprised," Cancelo told reporters. "I want to thank coach Nagelsmann, he was the one who wanted me at Bayern.

"It's caught me off guard, but all the luck in the world to him."

On Tuchel's possible arrival, Cancelo added: "When he arrives, I will try to adapt the concepts of the new coach as much as possible and I hope it goes well, because we have many important games.

"The decisive phase of the season is about to be entered and Bayern is a team that, individually and collectively, is always ready to win it all."

Speaking to Sky Sport, Cancelo suggested Tuchel owes him after the German's Chelsea side defeated City in the 2020-21 Champions League final.

"He made me lose a Champions League final, so I hope he lets me win this year," Cancelo quipped.

Julian Nagelsmann has been sacked by Bayern Munich and will be replaced by Thomas Tuchel, according to widespread reports.

Rumours of the surprise decision began to circulate on Thursday.

Fabrizio Romano suggested Bayern were considering a change of head coach, and things escalated quickly from there.

Within a couple of hours, a host of German publications claimed Bayern had made their move and sacked the 35-year-old.

The reports came out of the blue, with the highly-rated Nagelsmann guiding Bayern to the Bundesliga title last season and to the quarter-finals of the Champions League this term, with Manchester City awaiting them in that competition.

Bayern went into the international window second in the Bundesliga, a point behind rivals Borussia Dortmund ahead of their meeting in Der Klassiker on April 1.

Club chiefs Herbert Hainer and Hasan Salihamidzic insisted as recently as late February that Nagelsmann was seen as a "long-term project" by Bayern.

Now, however, it would appear former Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund coach Tuchel is set to take over after apparently reaching an agreement with Die Roten.

With Antonio Conte expected to leave Tottenham by the end of the week, attention is already turning to who might be next to try their hand at what continues to look a near-impossible job.

Spurs are a big club with a fabulous stadium, passionate fanbase and talented squad.

Despite the relative success of Harry Redknapp and Mauricio Pochettino in the last two decades, as well as investing in high-profile bosses Jose Mourinho and Conte, none have been able to bring silverware to the north London club.

The only trophy Spurs have claimed since the turn of the century was the EFL Cup in 2007-08, and any new manager/head coach will be tasked with ending that drought as soon as possible, as well as ensuring another season of Champions League football.

Stats Perform looks at some of the early favourites, with Conte seemingly on the brink.

Mauricio Pochettino

The Argentinian was a very popular figure during his time at White Hart Lane – and subsequently Wembley and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Pochettino may not have won a trophy, but he presided over two title challenges and the run to the 2019 Champions League final, which resulted in a 2-0 defeat to Liverpool.

He mostly got the best out of his players, too, and took many of them to another level.

His five-year reign included 113 wins from 202 Premier League games, a points-per-game (PPG) average of 1.89, very slightly higher than Conte's 1.88 (32 wins from 56 games).

Pochettino was eventually dismissed by chairman Daniel Levy after appearing to take the club as far as he could, so going back to him when still looking someone to take them to the next level might be a little backwards.

He would likely be a popular choice with the fans, though, and should at the very least provide some stability. Perhaps crucially, he might also be their best bet in convincing Harry Kane to stay.

Ryan Mason

It wouldn't technically be a return for Mason as he never actually left, taking on a first-team coach role after the end of his interim spell at the helm following the sacking of Mourinho in April 2021.

His second game in charge was a 1-0 defeat to Manchester City in the EFL Cup final, but Mason arguably did well considering his lack of experience.

Given he only took charge of six matches, it seems a little pointless to stake a claim for Mason based on his own PPG record (2.0).

But the former Spurs midfielder is the heavy favourite for the job, even if only on a short-term basis again.

Similarly to Pochettino, the thinking behind that choice would most likely be stability and that decision makers at the club may feel the players are likely to respond positively to someone they already know.

Unless he performs spectacularly, appointing Mason would probably be followed by a full-time hire at the end of the season.

Thomas Tuchel

While Tuchel would be yet another former Chelsea boss taking the reins, following in the footsteps of Glenn Hoddle, Andre Villas-Boas, Mourinho and Conte, it's hard to argue with his credentials.

The German won 35 of 63 Premier League games with the Blues, a PPG average of 1.94, as well as winning the Champions League in 2021.

Considering Spurs are eager to win a first trophy since 2008, the fact Tuchel guided Chelsea to five finals – including the 2021 Club World Cup – in less than two years will no doubt appeal, even if he did lose three of them.

Tuchel reportedly left Stamford Bridge partly due to a disagreement on transfers with owner Todd Boehly, which may not bode well given Conte's consistent complaining about the way Spurs work in the market.

Either way, the man who shared a furious handshake with Conte earlier this season could well be the same person to replace the Italian in the Spurs dugout.

 

Luis Enrique

The former Real Madrid and Barcelona player most recently won 27 of 48 games as Spain head coach, but international football can be a different world to the top-level club game.

Luis Enrique was very successful in his last club job at Barca, though it admittedly helped having a front three of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar all at their peak.

He won two LaLiga titles, three Copa del Rey crowns, a Supercopa de Espana, a European Super Cup and a Club World Cup, as well as the 2014-15 Champions League as part of a historic treble.

Overall, Luis Enrique won 87 of his 114 LaLiga games (2.4 PPG), but it is difficult to compare this to counterparts at Spurs given Barca's relative dominance in Spain.

His record at Roma earlier in his career could be a better barometer, winning 16 of his 38 Serie A games in charge of the Giallorossi (1.5 PPG), before winning 14 of 38 LaLiga matches as head coach of Celta Vigo (1.3 PPG) before heading to Camp Nou. But how relevant are these spells now given he left Balaidos nine years ago?

Similarly, the fact he's not had a club job since 2017 might be seen as problematic by some fans, while it could also be argued he underachieved with Spain.

Roberto De Zerbi

De Zerbi has made his mark on the Premier League very quickly since replacing Graham Potter at Brighton and Hove Albion in September.

Brighton have thrived and find themselves in a genuine fight for Europe, with a top-four finish not out of the question at this stage as they sit seven points behind fourth-placed Spurs with three games in hand.

De Zerbi has won eight of his 19 Premier League games, while the Seagulls rank second in the Premier League for passing accuracy (86.9 per cent), average possession (62.1 per cent) and passes per sequence (4.5). They are also third for goals (35) and fifth for passes played into the opposition's box since his first game, highlighting an attack-minded approach that would certainly be appreciated by a frustrated Spurs fanbase.

Getting him out of Brighton will be easier said than done, however, having already lost one head coach this season, not to mention their renown for getting a good deal – Potter reportedly cost Chelsea £21.5million.

Spurs will almost certainly have to pay through the nose or look elsewhere.

Oliver Glasner

A surprise name that has emerged in recent days is that of Eintracht Frankfurt head coach Oliver Glasner, who impressed so many by leading the Bundesliga club to Europa League success last season.

Glasner made a promising start to his coaching career in his native Austria with Ried and LASK, before guiding Wolfsburg to seventh and fourth-placed finishes in the German top-flight.

He then made the switch to Eintracht ahead of the 2021-22 season. He could only guide them to 11th in the Bundesliga, winning just three of their 17 games in the second half of the campaign, but this came amid the backdrop of Europa League glory, eliminating Real Betis, Barcelona and West Ham before beating Rangers in the final on penalties.

Some reports suggest Levy has already contacted Glasner, whose contract expires in 2024.

This season, Eintracht sit sixth in the league and were recently knocked out of the Champions League last 16 by Napoli.

Thomas Tuchel has been out of a job since being sacked by Chelsea in September but could be on the brink of a return to action. 

The German has previously led top European clubs Borussia Dortmund, Paris Saint-Germain and the Blues, whom he took to the 2020-21 Champions League title.

The 49-year-old has been linked with numerous vacant posts in recent months but reportedly turned down two Premier League offers.

TOP STORY – PSG WILLING TO ADMIT TUCHEL ERROR

PSG have grown frustrated with head coach Christophe Galtier and are ready to move to re-appoint Thomas Tuchel, claims the Evening Standard.

The club sacked Tuchel in December 2020 after two and a half years in charge with the best win percentage in Ligue 1 history.

But PSG are reportedly willing to admit their mistake in letting him go as they try to convince Tuchel to return following their recent run of three straight defeats, which was ended by Sunday's 4-3 win over Lille.

The report claims Tuchel would need assurances from the club, but it is the type of role he has been waiting for, joining a top side competing for major trophies.

 

ROUND-UP

– Real Madrid winger Marco Asensio is being monitored by Tottenham, according to Football Insider. Spurs will need to compete with Arsenal and Manchester United for the 27-year-old, who is out of contract at the end of this season.

Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United are all circling for Borussia Monchengladbach's Marcus Thuram, reports Talksport. The Athletic claims Thuram will exit Gladbach in the off-season as a free agent, with Bayern Munich also interested.

– Relevo reports Bayern are weighing up a move for Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos, with head coach Julian Nagelsmann an admirer, although no contact has been made yet.

– ESPN claims Manchester United and teenage sensation Alejandro Garnacho have agreed in principle to a new five-year contract, warding off interest.

Manchester United will need to fork out €80million (£71m) to land Tammy Abraham from Roma, reports Calciomercatoweb.

Juventus will move for Real Madrid winger Brahim Diaz after this season, claims Calciomercatoweb. Diaz is currently on loan at Milan, but the Rossoneri will not trigger their option to buy him.

Half a season is a long time in football.

At the end of the 2021-22 campaign, Liverpool had come within a whisker of becoming the first English team in history to win the EFL Cup, FA Cup, Premier League and Champions League in a single campaign.

Chelsea had reached two domestic finals, losing on penalties to Liverpool on both occasions, and finished third in the Premier League after initially threatening a title charge with their early season form.

As the two prepare to meet at Anfield on Saturday, they do so in very different places from then, sitting ninth and 10th in the league table respectively.

They both managed to win their last games 1-0, but there is a long way to go if they are to get back to where they expect to be, and Stats Perform has taken a look at where it may have gone wrong for the two stumbling giants.

Reds struggling to step up to the challenge

It has been a particularly harsh slide for Liverpool, who for the second time in recent seasons were denied the league title by Manchester City in May despite earning over 90 points, while an inspired performance from Thibaut Courtois stopped them in the Champions League final against Real Madrid.

The inevitable disappointment from those two blows has been suggested as one of the reasons why they have accumulated just 28 points from 18 Premier League games, having already lost three times as many as they did in their entire league campaign last season (6-2), and conceding just one fewer goal in less than half the games (25-26).

A lack of turnover in his previously trusted players has been another factor blamed for what has been a tired looking season from the Reds, and tired performances are understandably a significant problem for a team that thrived by overwhelming the opposition with their energy and high pressing.

Liverpool simply aren't executing as many high turnovers, averaging 9.4 per 90 this season, the fourth-most in the league, down from 11.7 last season when they produced comfortably the most (Man City second with 9.9 per 90).

One of the criticisms Klopp has been willing to make publicly of his team in recent games has been their struggle to win challenges, and he wasn't wrong as Liverpool have the worst record in the Premier League for duel success this season (47.4 per cent).

This could go some way to explaining why the number of big chances against them – defined by Opta as a situation from which a player should reasonably be expected to score – has exploded, having already allowed 54 in just 18 games, one more than the whole of last season, and 13 more than their total from the 2018-19 campaign when the team was entering its peak.

Compounding the problem, their ability to put away their own big chances has also fallen off a cliff, having led the league with a 55.3 per cent conversion rate last season.

Despite only Man City (67) creating more big chances than Liverpool's 60 this season, only Leicester City (25.8 per cent) have a worse conversion rate than their 26.7 per cent, less than half what it was last season.

The sale of Sadio Mane could be a factor given the Senegalese forward scored 14 of his 27 big chances in the league last season (51.8 per cent), while his primary replacement Darwin Nunez has only taken four of his 19 so far (21.1).

Things should settle if Nunez and new arrival Cody Gakpo can get close to their previous numbers. The Uruguayan put away 21 of his 35 in the Primeira Liga for Benfica last season, with his 60 per cent success rate the fourth-highest of players in Europe's top 10 leagues (min. 20 big chances), while Gakpo scored five of his 10 big chances for PSV in the Eredivisie before his move this season.

Blues in limbo after period of change

If the lack of squad replenishment is one of the main issues at Liverpool, it could be argued quite the opposite is true of Chelsea since their ownership change last May.

The £88.5million purchase of Mykhaylo Mudryk took the club's overall spending to £372.7m since then (according to Transfermarkt), with 13 new players coming in.

All that on top of swapping the head coach in September, with Thomas Tuchel replaced by the much-heralded Graham Potter, who had never coached a club of Chelsea's standing before.

While many put this down to same old Chelsea, changing their man in the dugout at the first sign of any trouble, it felt more like a statement of intent from Todd Boehly and co, wanting to put in place a long-term strategy with a progressive coach like Potter at the helm.

Despite a solid enough start, going unbeaten in his first nine games (W6, D3), a 4-1 humbling at former club Brighton and Hove Albion signalled the start of a prolonged wobble that has seen them lose another seven of their 11 games since. 

Potter managed to turn the Seagulls into one of the most attractive and fluent teams in the league, with one particular stand-out metric being their high turnovers.

Between the start of the 2021-22 season and leaving for Chelsea last September, only Liverpool (11.4) and Man City (9.9) averaged more high turnovers per game than Brighton (9.8) in the Premier League.

During the same period, Chelsea averaged 8.2 per game, which has gone up to 8.9 under Potter, showing there is still a way to go before his new team will be fully able to implement his style of football.

There has also been a significant struggle to score goals, having only managed 22 at the halfway point of the league campaign – four fewer than Leeds United and Leicester City – after scoring 76 last season.

It is an interesting situation considering Brighton managed just 42 goals last season, with only Wolves and the three relegated teams scoring fewer, and many pointed to the fact Potter never really had an orthodox and accomplished striker to call on.

However, at Chelsea he has had Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who may not be what he once was but still scored 13 goals in 23 games for Barcelona last season. The Gabon international has found the net just three times in 16 outings for the Blues, and once in 10 games in the Premier League.

There is also the revolving door of players in and out of the side due primarily to injuries and Potter trying to ascertain his best team, making 60 changes to his starting XI already since his arrival, 21 more than any other manager in the league in that time.

With the talent and resources available to both Klopp and Potter, it would be safe to assume that this is probably just a bad patch for them and before long, the familiar figures of the Reds and the Blues will be back challenging the top four.

There are certainly issues to iron out for both though, and what better way to start than by adding further misery to the other at Anfield on Saturday?

Graham Potter believes managing Chelsea is "the hardest job in football" due to the Blues' ownership change and expectations at Stamford Bridge.

Former Brighton and Hove Albion head coach Potter has struggled since arriving in west London, with Chelsea sat 10 points adrift of the Premier League's top four and 19 behind leaders Arsenal.

The Blues have won just one of their past eight matches in all competitions and have endured an equally poor run in the Premier League alone, leading Chelsea fans to chant for Potter's predecessor Thomas Tuchel.

Those calls for Tuchel came after back-to-back defeats to Manchester City, as some Blues supporters voiced their frustration at Potter's underwhelming start.

Todd Boehly's takeover after Roman Abramovich's departure has led to a significant overhaul at Chelsea, though, and Potter referenced those challenges as he reflected on a difficult period.

Ahead of Thursday's Premier League trip to Fulham, the Chelsea head coach said: "Change is challenging in any organisation. The change [of ownership] happened for events outside of us so it is not like there is some sort of coup gone on. This is what it is.

"We have to deal with the new now and we have to build things up again because things have changed, things have gone, people have left. That was part of the challenge to come [here].

"I understood that was going to be really difficult. I just thought from a leadership perspective, it is fascinating, challenging and stimulating, and ridiculously hard.

"I think this is probably the hardest job in football because of that leadership change and because of the expectations, and because of rightly where people see Chelsea. And obviously, I didn't think we would lose 10 first-team players [to injury] as well.

"But that's just where we're at. All I can do is come to you guys, speak honestly, give you my perspective and then understand the criticism you'll get because you lose, if you do."

Marina Granovskaia, technical and performance director Petr Cech, chairman Bruce Buck, chief executive Guy Laurence and head of international scouting Scott McLachlan were among those to leave Chelsea.

Boehly has replaced them with the likes of technical director Christopher Vivell from RB Leipzig, director of global talent and transfers Paul Winstanley, and Southampton's Joe Shields in senior recruitment.

The main criticism from Chelsea fans remains over the treatment Tuchel, who was dismissed in September despite winning the Champions League, Super Cup and Club World Cup in his 20-month Blues' spell.

Potter has no interest in asking for sympathy after some Chelsea supporters called for Tuchel's return, instead preferring to focus on the challenge ahead.

He added: "Ultimately, I am not after pity here. I am really grateful and privileged to be here. I look at how do you get through this tough period: be really grateful for it because it is an unbelievable challenge.

"Like, wow. What else could you be doing with your life? Worse. It is pain but then life can actually be pain.

"Life can really kick you in the nuts and then you have to recover from it, you have to deal with it, you have to move forward, you have to go again and that's what makes life better when it turns to a good place.

"I feel like I have to take my responsibility and be grateful for the opportunity and the challenge I have."

Graham Potter admits Chelsea are "suffering" after fans were heard signing the names of former boss Thomas Tuchel and ex-owner Roman Abramovich during the FA Cup thrashing at Manchester City. 

The Blues were hammered 4-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, making their first exit from the famous competition at the third-round stage since the 1997-98 season.

Chelsea's latest setback continues a poor run, having lost 1-0 to City in the Premier League on Thursday to leave them with just one win in eight Premier League fixtures.

Blues fans let their feelings be known as they crashed out with a whimper, with Tuchel and Abramovich chants heard from the away end.

Head coach Potter told reporters: "The results in a small space of time aren't positive.

"You can make excuses and look for reasons, or you can say that it isn't good enough and both of those answers are correct.

"Clearly, we're suffering as a football club, and it's not nice, but it's where we are at the moment.

"We can't do anything but do our jobs better and work harder. We understand the supporters; frustration, but our job is to do our job.

"There are always other opinions, criticism and negativity, but that's part of the challenge."

 

Potter has no issue with the commitment of his players during such a difficult spell.

"This opponent is the worst opponent you can play when things aren't going well because they can make it look like you aren't trying," he added.

"I'm working with the players, and I don't feel the sense of any players with a poor attitude.

"Everyone wants to try to do better, but we're going through a bad moment and in these moments, you need somebody to blame."

The prospect of England appointing a foreign manager if Gareth Southgate leaves the role is "unacceptable", according to his predecessor Sam Allardyce. 

Southgate's future as England manager is uncertain following the Three Lions' 2-1 World Cup quarter-final loss against France.

He remains under contact until the end of Euro 2024 but has indicated he will make a decision on his future after Christmas.

The likes of Mauricio Pochettino and Thomas Tuchel have been touted as potential replacements if Southgate does depart, but Allardyce is against the appointment of a non-British coach.

"It can't happen, not again. There are enough qualified British managers in this country to pick the right man," Allardyce, who led England for one game in 2016, told Sky Sports.

"I just don't see it. I think it would be a massive knock-back for our country, and a massive knock-back for young managers trying to make their way.

"It's hard enough to get in the Premier League as a British manager, but to think that it's taken away from you to become the national team's coach… I think it's unacceptable, personally."

Fellow former England boss Fabio Capello said Southgate should stay on if he has the full support of the squad on Tuesday, and while Allardyce concurs, he would understand if Southgate opted to step down.

"How long do you want to put up with that scrutiny and that pressure? Lots of managers will leave their positions at the end of the World Cup," Allardyce said.

"While it's an experience and a job you could never turn down, not in my opinion anyway, there's a time when you have gone through the mill enough.

"I think this squad is good enough for him to think: 'I need to carry on because I think we could win the Euros'.

"But there is the other side of it to consider: 'how much more pressure do I want to continue to cope with, and is it time for me to bow out?'"

England's hopes of reaching the final four were dashed when Harry Kane blazed an 84th-minute penalty over the crossbar, having converted from the spot earlier in the second half.

Allardyce does not believe the presence of Kane's Tottenham team-mate Hugo Lloris in the France goal impacted his miss, putting it down to the pressure of the moment. 

"I don't get any of that rubbish about Lloris sussing him out because they play for the same club. It was the pure pressure of the event," he added.

"He strikes a penalty so well normally, and if he struck it as well as he did the first one, Lloris would have had no chance.

"I always said from the start that we had the strongest squad in this World Cup, and I still believe that. The biggest regret is that this competition only arrives once every four years."

The race to sign Palmeiras teenager Endrick is on.

Endrick turns 18 in July 2024, and he cannot officially join a European club until then, but teams are jostling for position in the meantime.

The 16-year-old has scored three goals in seven appearances for Palmeiras in the 2022 Serie A season.

 

TOP STORY - LOS BLANCOS HOME IN ON BRAZILIAN TEENAGER ENDRICK

Real Madrid are closing in on a deal worth €70million for Palmeiras teenager Endrick with personal terms agreed, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Madrid are in the final stages with the talented left-footed Brazilian striker with contracts discussed and they hope to complete the deal this month.

Romano claims that Paris Saint-Germain have withdrawn from the race despite a €58m offer a few days ago. Chelsea were previously interested too. 

ROUND-UP

Paris Saint-Germain were tracking Portugal's last-16 hat-trick hero Goncalo Ramos in the off-season, claims Fabrizio Romano. The 21-year-old forward is contracted with Benfica until 2025, with his price likely to surge after his latest World Cup display.

Manchester United have pulled out of the race to sign Jude Bellingham from Borussia Dortmund, claims Sky Sports Germany. Liverpool, Manchester City and Real Madrid all remain interested but the England international may cost around £130m (€150m).

– Bild claims Manchester United have commenced talks with Borussia Monchengladbach goalkeeper Yann Sommer, who is out of contract at the end of this season, but Fichajes reports they have identified Atletico Madrid's Jan Oblak as their main target.

Tottenham are looming as a possible option for Ivorian midfielder Franck Kessie with Barcelona eager to sell him, according to Sport. Kessie joined the Blaugrana in July but has only made five starts this season.

– Nicolo Schira reports that Hansi Flick's future as Germany's head coach is in doubt following their World Cup group-stage exit. The German Football Association could move in a different direction amid links with ex-Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel.

Todd Boehly's quotes when announcing Graham Potter as Chelsea's new head coach last month said much about his burgeoning reputation.

Having dispensed with the services of one of just two men to bring the Champions League trophy to Stamford Bridge in Thomas Tuchel, Boehly described Potter as a "proven innovator in the Premier League", and someone with "skills and capabilities that extend beyond the pitch".

Potter certainly had big shoes to fill, but it has been a case of so far, so good for the Blues boss.

Nine games into his tenure, Potter has yet to suffer defeat, leading Chelsea to fifth place in the Premier League and into the Champions League's last 16 ahead of Saturday's return to Brighton and Hove Albion.

Ahead of Potter's reunion with the Seagulls, Stats Perform reflects on his coaching journey and asks whether his strong start with Chelsea represents a sign of things to come.



From humble beginnings: Potter's stunning journey at Ostersunds

When Potter – whose modest playing career saw him feature in each of the top five tiers of English football – made an unconventional move to Sweden in 2011, few would have expected him to progress quite so rapidly.

Potter was recommended to fourth-tier side Ostersunds by Graeme Jones, then Roberto Martinez's assistant at Swansea City, and they would not regret taking him on. Within seven years, Potter was masterminding Europa League wins against Galatasaray, Hertha Berlin, and most noticeably of all, Arsenal.

Having led the side to three promotions in five seasons, Potter oversaw a Svenska Cupen triumph in 2017, earning the chance to face some of Europe's biggest names.

Ostersunds' 2-1 success at the Emirates Stadium in February 2018 put Potter on the map, despite Arsene Wenger's men triumphing 4-2 on aggregate at the end of their round-of-32 tie. 

Despite his limited resources, Potter became the first English coach to beat the Gunners in a European tie at the Emirates, while Ostersunds were the first Swedish team to win away at an English side since 1995, earning their boss a move to Swansea.

Making waves at Swansea ahead of Brighton move

Swansea were considered one of the Premier League's best-run clubs for much of their seven-year spell among the top flight between 2011 and 2018, but Potter inherited a team unprepared for a promotion challenge following relegation that May.

The Swans allowed several key men to leave in Potter's first transfer window, but the new boss made a big impact: Swansea may have finished nine points adrift of a Championship play-off spot, but a controversial 3-2 defeat to Manchester City in the FA Cup quarter-finals put him on the radar of Premier League clubs.  

Despite only spending one season in Wales, Potter was key to the development of the likes of Dan James and Joe Rodon, both of whom went on to join top-six clubs. 

When Brighton were in the mood to change their style of play in 2019, Potter's sterling work on a limited budget in Wales put him high on their shortlist.

Seagulls soar to new heights: Potter's Premier League bow

In the 2018-19 season, Chris Hughton's Brighton staved off relegation by two points, scoring a mere 35 league goals across a dull campaign. Potter's subsequent arrival was not universally welcomed, with several pundits highlighting his lack of top-level experience, but he quickly made them eat their words.

Although finishes of 15th and 16th in his first two campaigns may not have demonstrated obvious progress, Potter's ability to implement a progressive style was clear: having averaged 41 per cent possession in Hughton's final season, Brighton averaged 52 per cent the following year. 

The 2021-22 campaign saw Potter conduct some of his finest work to date, presiding over a ninth-place finish while losing just 11 games. Only Liverpool (two), City (three) and Chelsea (six) were beaten on fewer occasions. 

In addition to the top three, only Tottenham and Wolves posted better defensive records than Brighton last term, and their energetic pressing style was demonstrated by the fact only Liverpool and City won possession in the final third more often than the Seagulls.

Brighton saved arguably their finest performance for Potter's final match, scoring five goals in a top-flight game for the first time (in 364 outings) as they hammered Leicester City 5-2.

The Seagulls fell victim to their own success as Potter was lured to Chelsea four days later, and there are signs he has made an impact quickly in London.

Potter shakes off Chelsea blues with unbeaten start

Potter arrived at Stamford Bridge with Chelsea languishing three points behind Brighton in the early-season standings. He will return to the AMEX Stadium boasting a six-point advantage over his former club, but Chelsea was not a happy place when he took over. 

Many fans felt Tuchel deserved more time following his excellent management of last-season's off-pitch troubles, and while an estimated £250million transfer outlay demonstrated Boehly's intent, their recruitment felt muddled and short-sighted.

Take, for instance, the decision to reunite Tuchel with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, spending £10.3m on a 33-year-old striker before changing coach less than a week later.

Potter, however, has made light of any concerns, becoming just the second Englishman to go undefeated through his first nine games in charge of Chelsea.

While Chelsea dropped out of the top four following a 1-1 draw with Manchester United on Saturday, the Blues' exceptional European form has seen them wrap up top spot in Group E with a game to spare – a commendable achievement given they failed to win their opening two games.

Potter's willingness to switch between a 4-3-3 shape and the 3-4-3 system favoured by Tuchel has helped him to manage his talent-filled squad, while a return of five clean sheets in nine games demonstrates Chelsea's defensive solidity.

At Brighton, meanwhile, Potter's absence has been keenly felt. While his successor Roberto De Zerbi has earned plaudits for the Seagulls' style, he is yet to oversee a victory in five Premier League games (D2 L3).

Should Potter lead Chelsea to a positive result at his former home, De Zerbi will become just the third coach in Brighton's history to not win any of his first six league matches.

Saturday will represent the earliest date in a Premier League season by which a coach has managed for and against the same club. If the teams' contrasting runs of form are anything to go by, it may come far too soon for Brighton.

At Stamford Bridge, meanwhile, things appear to be looking up, and Potter's meteoric rise may be far from over.

Joao Felix is increasingly frustrated with life at Atletico Madrid after dropping out of the starting XI in recent games.

The 22-year-old Portuguese is yet to score for the side in LaLiga or the Champions League this season and was an unused substitute in the midweek 0-0 draw with Club Brugge.

Atleti boss Diego Simeone has preferred Antoine Griezmann, Alvaro Morata, Matheus Cunha and Angel Correa in attack recently.

 

TOP STORY – JOAO FELIX WANTS ATLETICO EXIT

Joao Felix has requested to leave Atletico Madrid in January, reports Fichajes.

The forward is frustrated that he has been used sparingly, largely outside the starting XI this term.

Joao Felix's contract runs until 2026 and it will likely require a hefty fee to sign him from Atleti, who paid €126 million for him in 2019.

Relevo claims that Atleti are not considering selling the Portuguese any time soon.

 

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– ​ Frenkie de Jong is growing frustrated at his lack of first-team opportunities at Barcelona and will look to exit the club in January should the situation not improve, claims SPORT. De Jong was at the centre of a drawn-out off-season saga, amid links to Manchester United.

Granit Xhaka will earn a contract extension at Arsenal, reports Football Insider. Xhaka, who is out of contract in 2024, has been in top form this term and will be rewarded after the World Cup.

Chelsea have an interest in RB Leipzig's Austria international midfielder Konrad Laimer, reports Bild. Laimer is out of contract at the end of this season and the Blues will look to sign him for free if he is not sold in January.

Chelsea along with Arsenal are now also keen on pursuing Rennes winger Jeremy Doku, claims Fichajes. The 20-year-old is already being chased by Liverpool, Napoli and Juventus.

– Bild also claims Chelsea are monitoring versatile Bayern Munich defender Benjamin Pavard.

– The Telegraph reports Thomas Tuchel is interested in the England managerial role should Gareth Southgate depart after this year's World Cup. The German has reportedly declined two Premier League jobs since leaving Chelsea last month.

Chelsea's admiration of 23-year-old Milan forward Rafael Leao is not a secret.

The Blues, along with several other clubs including Manchester City, are keen on the Portuguese.

Chelsea have also been linked with Christopher Nkunku in recent days but are plotting ways to land Rafael Leao too.

TOP STORY – CHELSEA AND MILAN PLOTTING SWAP DEAL

Chelsea and Milan are considering a swap deal whereby Rafael Leao would join the Blues, claims Calciomercato.

Christian Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi would be part of the deal, although the Italian champions would still demand a £90million fee for the Portuguese.

According to the report, Milan will use their Champions League game on Wednesday against the Blues at Stamford Bridge to talk with Pulisic, along with Trevoh Chalobah.

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– 90min claims that West Ham midfielder Declan Rice is top of Chelsea's transfer wish list. The Hammers slapped a £120m price tag on the England international in the off-season, although that will likely drop as the length of his contract shortens.

– Football Insider claims Arsenal have reached an agreement in principle with 21-year-old winger Bukayo Saka on a new contract. Saka's current deal expires in 2024.

Everton are eager to use the option-to-buy trigger in Conor Coady's loan deal from Wolves, claims The Times. Coady would cost the Toffees less than £10m.

Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper could be sacked by owner Evangelos Marinakis, according to The Mail, with The Guardian linking Rafael Benitez with the role along with ex-Burnely boss Sean Dyche.

– Fabrizio Romano reports that former Inter and Lazio midfielder and Red Star boss Dejan Stankovic has reached a full agreement with Sampdoria to become the Italian Serie A club's new manager to replace the sacked Marco Giampaolo.

Jose Mourinho is set to be offered a new contract by Roma, potentially keeping him in the Italian capital until 2026, reports La Repubblica.

– Sport1 claims ex-Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has declined the opportunity to take over at Bayer Leverkusen amid their poor start to the season.

Real Madrid were among the contenders chasing Erling Haaland's signature over the off-season.

Los Blancos, along with Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea, Manchester United, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, were keen on the former Borussia Dortmund forward.

Ultimately, the Norwegian decided to join Manchester City, starting on fire with 14 goals in 10 games in all competitions, but Madrid are keeping an eye on him.

TOP STORY – MADRID PLANNING LONG-TERM MOVES FOR CITY DUO

Spanish giants Real Madrid are plotting moves to sign Manchester City pair Joao Cancelo and Erling Haaland, reports AS.

Madrid will attempt to sign the 28-year-old Portuguese full-back in mid-2023, with Cancelo contracted until 2027, although the report claims he will cost around €40-50million (£35-44m).

The Spanish champions are planning a swoop for Haaland but not until 2024, with Karim Benzema in the twilight of his career.

Haaland reportedly has a termination clause in his City contract worth €180m (£158m) up until 2024.

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– The Daily Star reports that Manchester United and David De Gea are set for key talks on his future, with the goalkeeper's contract expiring in mid-2023. United hold an option to extend his stay.

Manchester United may struggle in their bid to sign Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, with the Villans to turn down any offer for him in January, claims Football Insider.

Barcelona are keen to sign Wolves 25-year-old midfielder Ruben Neves as a long-term replacement for 34-year-old Sergio Busquets, reports Sport. Neves will be the Blaugrana's top target at the end of this season.

Gerard Pique is not interested in joining Atletico Madrid in January, claims Sport. The defender has fallen out of favour at Barcelona, but he is determined to fight for his spot.

– Calciomercato claims that Chelsea are interested in Inter wing-back Denzel Dumfries. The Italian club may be willing to part with the Dutchman for approximately £44m.

– Colombian forward Luis Muriel is ready to leave Atalanta, with a move to Fiorentina on the cards, according to Calciomercato.

– PSV striker Cody Gakpo is likely to have more offers in January with Manchester United, Southampton and Everton all still interested, claims Football Transfers.

Thomas Tuchel is Real Madrid 's preferred replacement for Carlo Ancelotti, according to El Nacional. The Italian has told the club he does not intend to manage Madrid beyond this season.

Jules Kounde opted to join Barcelona over Chelsea as he "preferred Xavi's speech" to Thomas Tuchel's.

The France international had looked set to sign for Chelsea during the most recent transfer window, only to put pen to paper on a five-year deal at Camp Nou.

Sevilla director of football Monchi suggested at the time that Barca pounced for Kounde after Chelsea had withdrawn their offer due to "having doubts".

However, in an interview with French outlet L'Equipe, Kounde insisted the decision was his own after being wooed by Barca head coach Xavi.

"First, I have come to a huge club, which has known good times and which, lately, has had less," he said.

"I come to a project that I would not call reconstruction, because we already have a competitive team, but rather, being upturned.

"I was interested in being part of this new wave, in search of titles, and to put Barca back where it has always been, among the best clubs. 

"Then there was the conversation with the coach. We talked about football. I felt a real confidence from him, that he had a real knowledge of myself, my game and my qualities.

"I spoke with Tuchel and I also felt that he wanted me to come, but I simply preferred Xavi's speech."

Chelsea have made a slow start to the 2022-23 season and recently brought an end to Tuchel's 20-month tenure.

Despite their high-profile financial issues, meanwhile, Barca have made a strong start to their campaign and are two points off LaLiga leaders Real Madrid after six matches.

Kounde was registered by Barcelona at the end of August, a month after joining, and has helped the Catalan giants to four clean sheets in his five appearances.

Indeed, the five clean sheets Barca have kept in their opening six league matches is a tally they did not reach until 21 games played last season.

And Kounde, one of two defenders alongside team-mate Alejandro Balde to have provided two assists in a single LaLiga match this term, believes he is well suited to Xavi's style.

"When I talked to Xavi he told me that my qualities correspond to his game plan, starting from the back, playing high, using my qualities of speed and anticipation," Kounde said. 

"He also wants an aggressive team – we are one of the teams that presses high.

"He saw me in this system and I too saw myself in this team that I saw make a pretty crazy rise in the table last season. 

"With Sevilla we were 15 points ahead of them in the middle of the season. Xavi arrived and I saw the changes he made and what direction he was going in. I liked it."

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