Chelsea have added the coaches of Argentina and Brazil to the English Premier League club’s list of candidates to replace Antonio Conte.
Though neither would be available until the conclusion of the World Cup, Jorge Sampaoli and Tite represent comparatively low-cost options for a club that has just suspended its largest ever capital project, the rebuilding of Stamford Bridge.
Officially put “on hold…due to the current unfavourable investment climate”, the stadium rebuild was halted by Roman Abramovich less than a week after Chelsea’s billionaire owner took Israeli citizenship in response to a decision to examine the renewal of his UK investor visa.
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It is understood that Abramovich has instructed the club’s board to broaden their search for a successor to Conte, who is waiting to be formally dismissed as manager.
Sampaoli, 58, was interviewed by Arsenal before Unai Emery’s appointment last month. The Argentine established a global reputation by leading Chile to the knock-out rounds of the 2014 World Cup, where they were eliminated by hosts Brazil on penalties.
The following year, Sampaoli won the 2015 Copa America, was shortlisted for the FIFA World Coach of the Year award, and led Sevilla to a fourth-place Liga finish in his sole season at the Spanish club. The Argentine federation then bought out Sampaoli’s contract in order to turn around a World Cup qualifying group that threatened to cost the nation’s place in Russia.
Tite also took charge of Brazil’s World Cup qualification mid-campaign, replaced Dunga in June 2016 after the national team had won just two of its opening six fixtures. Tite’s reshaped team did not lose once, scoring 30 times and conceding just three goals as they won the South American group by 10 clear points.
The 57-year-old has gone through 16 separate club appointments in a 28-year coaching career. Across three spells at Corinthians, Tite has won two Campeonatos Brasileiros, one Copa Libertadores and the 2012 FIFA Club World Cup.
The majority of his career has been spent in Brazil and he is yet to coach a European club. Tite’s annual salary with Brazil is understood to be less than £1.5m with his contract expiring at the end of July.
Chelsea would be liable for over £10m of compensation payments to Conte and support staff if they sack the Italian and he does not take up another job within a year of dismissal.
While neither party wants to continue what descended into a fractious relationship during Conte’s first, Premier League title winning campaign, Chelsea have held off on terminating the contract in the hope of avoiding a pay off.
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The club has held discussions with former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique and Maurizio Sarri, who remains under contract at Napoli despite being replaced as coach by Carlo Ancelotti. Enrique’s salary demands have proved unpalatable, while an asymmetric rescission clause in Sarri’s Napoli deal adds an €8m ‘transfer fee’ to the cost of hiring the Italian.
Chelsea have also considered former France and Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc and Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic.
The 49-year-old Serb has won titles in his native country and Thailand, taken Maccabi Tel Aviv to the group stages of the Champions League, and secured promotion to the Premier League with both Watford and his current club.
While lower in profile than Sampaoli or Tite, Jokanovic is already based in London and has extensive knowledge of the English game. In common with the two South Americans, he would be a relatively inexpensive appointment.