When Italy manager Antonio Conte refused to acknowledge interest from Chelsea despite his term as manager coming to a close, Blues fans certainly may have felt there was a cause for concern. Not only has Conte been just about the only name floated out to replace Jose Mourinho and Guus Hiddink permanently, he is also recognized as one of the best managers in all of football.
Some may argue that Conte is merely staying focused on the upcoming Euro 2016 tournament, but until pen is put to paper the whole ‘Conte to Chelsea’ discussion is not a guarantee.
That said, should Chelsea for some reason or another miss out on Conte, there are a variety of other avenues to pursue to serve as the team’s permanent manager – some of whom might even be a better prospect than the former Juventus manager.
Here are five possible replacements for Antonio Conte at Chelsea next season:
Diego Simeone, Atletico Madrid manager
Arguably the best manager in La Liga, Simeone has done more with less for a non-Barcelona/Real Madrid team than any manager in a decade. He is the only manager to lead a club besides those two top clubs to a title in over a decade and won titles in the Europa League, Super Cup, Supercoppa de Espana, and Copa Del Ray in his five years with the club.
He also brings the added benefit of having the admiration of disgruntled striker Diego Costa – who has been tipped to leave Chelsea to join Simeone in Atletico Madrid.
Guus Hiddink, Chelsea interim manager
Why fix what isn’t broken? Hiddink is unbeaten in the Premier League since taking over in late-December for Jose Mourinho. Though the Blues were unceremoniously dropped from the FA Cup and Champions League under his watch, he still has growing support from the locker room.
The primary obstacle to having Hiddink as the permanent manager would obviously be his age though. At 69 years old he has already hinted at retirement at the end of the year.
Massimiliano Allegri, Juventus manager
Rather than get Conte, landing his equally-if-not-more-successful replacement could be a massive coup for Roman Abramovich. Despite a poor start to the season, Allegri has led Juventus all the way to the top of the table after a 15-game winning streak and led the club to the Champions League Final last season.
Manuel Pellegrini, Manchester City manager
The Man City boss got a very raw deal from management after being told mid-season that he would not be retained. While he does need to take responsibility for their poor performance this year, Pellegrini still has a lot of football left in him and could get the most out of Chelsea’s players.
Thomas Tuchel, Borussia Dortmund manager
Tuchel is no Jurgen Klopp, but as the months go by it’s hard to argue that he isn’t about as good a replacement as the Bundesliga giants could ever find. In just his first year at the helm, Dortmund have already qualified for the Champions League with a solid second-place in Bundesliga, and are in a pole position for the Europa League with Klopp’s Liverpool squad on the schedule.
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