Chelsea identify Amorim and De Zerbi as potential Pochettino replacements

<span>Mauricio Pochettino prior to <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Chelsea;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Chelsea</a>’s 2-2 draw at <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Brentford;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Brentford</a>, during which some visiting supporters turned on the manager.</span><span>Photograph: Gaspafotos/MB Media/Getty Images</span>

Chelsea’s desire to wait until the end of the season before reviewing Mauricio Pochettino’s position has not stopped the club from identifying Rúben Amorim and Roberto De Zerbi as potential replacements for the Argentinian.

Pochettino, who was handed a two-year deal after arriving at Stamford Bridge last summer, faces an uncertain future after a mixed run of results. Supporters turned on the head coach during Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Brentford last Saturday and there are doubts over whether the 52-year-old will be in charge next season.

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Chelsea, who are 11th in the Premier League, remain determined not to make any kneejerk decisions and key figures within the hierarchy are still supportive of Pochettino. Although results and performances have been inconsistent, there is a view that the side is moving in the right direction under the former ­Tottenham manager. Pochettino has not lost a youthful dressing room and has had to contend with injuries to influential players all season.

However the pressure on the former Southampton coach grew after Chelsea lost the Carabao Cup final to an injury-hit and inexperienced Liverpool side in extra time last month. Pochettino’s future is likely to depend on whether Chelsea, who host Leicester in the FA Cup quarter-finals on 17 March, secure European football.

There is currently little desire from the Todd Boehly-Clearlake Capital ownership to rush into a decision on Pochettino, who is being given an opportunity to continue in the job. Boehly and Clearlake are looking for continuity after employing four managers last season.

However Chelsea are taking a long-term view and hope to be ready should they decide to go in a different direction. They are assessing both Amorim, who has impressed at Sporting, and De Zerbi, who could leave Brighton at the end of the season. De Zerbi is on Liverpool’s shortlist to replace Jürgen Klopp and is of interest to Manchester United should they sack Erik ten Hag.

Liverpool are also looking at Amorim. The 39-year-old led Sporting to the Portuguese title in 2021 and he hopes to help them win the league again this season. Chelsea considered Amorim before appointing Pochettino last year.

Any manager who takes the ­Chelsea job would need to be willing to work beneath the club’s sporting structure. Pochettino is not in charge of recruitment. The co-sporting directors, Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley, have largely been behind a spending spree on a host of young players. Joe Shields, the co-director of recruitment and talent, has also played a part and Behdad Eghbali, the co-controlling owner, is highly influential.

Pochettino said last week that “I am the coach that needs to be in my place” when he was asked about Conor Gallagher’s future. Gallagher’s contract runs out next year and the midfielder could depart this summer as talks over a new deal are at an impasse.

Related: Mauricio Pochettino powerless to influence Conor Gallagher’s future

Sources have suggested that Pochettino has been dealt a poor hand by the club. Chelsea lack experience and leadership, and injuries have made rotation difficult. Pochettino’s options in midfield have been limited by injuries to Roméo Lavia, Lesley Ugochukwu and Carney Chukwuemeka, leaving him reliant on Gallagher, Enzo Fernández and Moisés Caicedo.

But questions have been raised over why Chelsea recalled the 21-year-old midfielder, Cesare Casadei, from his loan at Leicester in January. Having appeared 25 times in all competitions for Leicester, Casadei has had 13 minutes of playing time since returning from the Championship leaders. The Italian was an unused substitute against Brentford and there are fears that his development could stall.

Chelsea have left themselves open to criticism of their strategy. Andrey Santos, the 19-year-old Brazilian midfielder, has played four games across two loan spells at Nottingham Forest and Strasbourg this season.

Chelsea are also looking into their habit of fading after half-time under Pochettino. There is frustration that encouraging first-half performances have not been backed up on enough occasions. Chelsea were 1-0 up at half-time against Brentford but they had to settle for a point after struggling in the second half.