Chelsea next manager: Luis Enrique flies in for further talks after fine first impression
Luis Enrique is travelling to London for talks to replace Graham Potter as Chelsea manager, after impressing in initial talks.
The 52-year-old is understood to want the job and is flying over with his friend and representative Ivan de la Pena, according to reports in Spain.
A treble-winner with Barcelona, the coach has been out of work in the club game since 2017, but has stayed relevant in international football, playing a progressive, possession-based style with Spain until his sacking after the World Cup.
He is one of at least five coaches expected to be interviewed to replace Potter, who was sacked on Sunday.
Three of Chelsea’s four main decision-makers for the role were watching their side draw 0-0 with Liverpool at Stamford Bridge last night.
Co-owner Behdad Eghbali and sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart are keen to meet candidates face-to-face.
Luis Enrique, who was previously interviewed by Chelsea under Roman Abramovich, is one of the frontrunners, alongside Julian Nagelsmann. The former Bayern Munich manager has also had contact from Chelsea, while Mauricio Pochettino, formerly at Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain, is also expected to be considered.
Sporting manager Ruben Amorim will cost £10m to appoint and was previously interviewed before Potter’s appointment. He remains on the club’s radar, alongside Eintracht Frankfurt’s Europa League-winning manager Oliver Glasner.
Brighton’s Roberto De Zerbi has already been ruled out and Napoli’s Luciano Spalletti is deemed an unlikely option as his side close in on a historic Italian league title.
Chelsea want to consider various options as part of an ‘exhaustive search’ and no decision is thought to be imminent.
Bruno Saltor, Potter’s former assistant, will continue to lead the team on a game-by-game basis.
It raises the prospect that the interim manager leads the team to face Wolves this weekend and away at Real Madrid in the quarter-final of the Champions League next week.
The former Brighton captain looked reluctant with his new-found responsibility and admitted: “It is truly difficult to enjoy. It’s been really difficult, sad and disappointing, but I’ve been trying to focus on being the best professional.”
Kai Havertz, who was Potter’s top scorer and played the most minutes under the outgoing coach, shared his respect for both Bruno and Potter after the match.
He did, however, say that several in the squad were ready for a change: “There were mixed emotions for everyone. For me, it was sad news. I liked Graham and I liked what he did.”