Chelsea next manager leading candidate 'revealed' as shocking Roberto De Zerbi issue finally clear

Former Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi
-Credit: (Image: James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images)

Chelsea continue to their due diligence on prospective new managers as they wait to appoint a third permanent head coach in under two years. The Blues have now reportedly narrowed their pool of candidates down to two.

Manchester United's wait to come public with either a backing or sacking of Erik ten Hag is likely to have an impact on just how this all goes. For now, the game is well and truly afoot, Watson.

There is work to be done to appoint the possible suitors, but with so much riding on this, those heading the operation are taking their time. Here, has the latest on the search.

Eden Hazard's pick

Eden Hazard has jokingly pointed the club towards former Chelsea teammate Cesc Fabregas as they look to find Mauricio Pochettino's replacement. One week after the Argentine's last game in charge, there are still a number of names being considered for the role.

Roberto De Zerbi (more on him later) is one of those, along with Enzo Maresca. understands that Thomas Frank and Kieran McKenna are also in the mix.

However, Hazard has given Chelsea another name in the mix. When asked if he felt it would be De Zerbi, he replied, "Maybe. I have my friend also in Como. He can be the first manager." With a wink, he was off.

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Alluding to Fabregas, who is currently assistant at recently promoted Italian Serie B side Como, Hazard certainly kept up his happy-go-lucky approach to things. says: In a world dominated by Spanish midfielders-turn coaches, Fabregas would be the Chelsea equivalent of Xabi Alonso or Arteta. The issue is that before landing their big roles both had much more experience in the job.

Fabregas would be a big fan favourite at Stamford Bridge (and his excellent chant is still heard on a weekly basis) but in terms of taking this squad forward, there's probably a reason that he isn't actually being tipped as an option. Maybe as an assistant, which we assume Hazard means when describing him as 'first manager' there is an argument.

However, and not to put a dampener on things or take this snippet too seriously, Chelsea are moving towards specialists and may not be too open to a man this early in his coaching career. Fabregas has been assistant for just six months at Como having managed five games as caretaker and nine for the Under-19 side before that. Maybe one day, Cesc.

De Zerbi leads the way

From not being on the initial shortlist to now leading the race, De Zerbi talk is hotting up. It was revealed on Sunday that the Italian was indeed being considered by Chelsea alongside a final shortlist of McKenna, Maresca, and Frank, ending the search for a 'mystery' candidate.

De Zerbi is now said to be much more than just in the mix, with some going as far as suggesting that he is now the favourite. Meanwhile, other reports have described him as being Maresca, with yet more murmurs that, in fact, the Chelsea decision-makers can't agree on one name yet. says: Too many cooks spoil the broth, they say. Chelsea were warned.

With two public-facing co-owners (Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali, not to mention Jose E Feliciano also of Clearlake Capital and the rest of the consortium) plus co-sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart, there is a lot going on. It's no surprise, then, that such differing reports are coming out.

Chelsea will need to find some alignment, and regardless of who is making the decision it's just no surprise that De Zerbi is in the mix. His football at Brighton for 12 months caught everyone by surprise and he was in the conversation for every top job going. The most recent year is a different story, however, and it poses serious questions as to just what Chelsea are doing.

De Zerbi has shown himself to be somewhat narrow-minded in his approach, unable to manage a crisis, and has been combustible in a way that must surely scare the Chelsea hierarchy rather than attract them. This doesn't seem to be the case though. Chelsea are after the guy that has some great social media clips of his football but ultimately finished 11th and was 8th in 2022/23 from his appointment.

It won't be quiet if De Zerbi is the next man for Chelsea.