Brighton pushing to seal deal for Ipswich manager Kieran McKenna

<span>Kieran McKenna led Ipswich to promotion to the Premier League.</span><span>Photograph: Alex Pantling/Getty Images</span>
Kieran McKenna led Ipswich to promotion to the Premier League.Photograph: Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Brighton are pushing to complete a deal to appoint Kieran ­McKenna as Roberto De Zerbi’s replacement, but they still face competition from Chelsea and Manchester United for the Ipswich manager.

McKenna, who has emerged as one of the brightest young managers in the country after masterminding Ipswich’s promotion to the Premier League, is in line to move to the Amex Stadium if all the pieces fall in place. It is understood that certain obstacles have to be overcome if McKenna is to join Brighton, who have a vacancy to fill after parting company with De Zerbi by mutual consent.

Related: How switching off fired Ipswich into Premier League promised land

Brighton will need to agree a deal with Ipswich, who will be desperate to hold on to the 38-year-old. McKenna took the Suffolk club up from League One in 2023 and he defied expectations by finishing second in the Championship last season.

McKenna’s achievements during his short coaching career have made him a wanted man. Chelsea, who are weighing up whether to sack Mauricio Pochettino, have spoken to McKenna’s representatives. There is also strong interest from United, who could dispense with Erik ten Hag’s services. Although there is confidence that Brighton can agree a deal, there is a chance that McKenna could wait to see if vacancies arise at either Chelsea or United.

His calculation would have to be whether his development would be better served by working in a less pressurised environment at this stage of his career. Brighton are a well-run club under Tony Bloom and would give McKenna time to grow.

McKenna, who was previously on the backroom staff at United, has earned praise for the quality of his coaching and his attacking football. Ipswich will hope that he decides to stay and tries to keep them in the top flight. A concern for McKenna, though, would be whether his reputation would be dented by Ipswich going down. Bridging the financial gap will not be easy and McKenna may note that all three promoted clubs were relegated this season.

Ipswich will need to prepare for the possibility of losing him. They have identified Luton Town’s Rob Edwards as a potential replacement for McKenna.