Following Pep Guardiola's decision to manage Bayern Munich... Who now for Chelsea?
Will Pep Guardiola's appointment spell the return of Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge?
The news that Pep Guardiola has agreed to become Bayern Munich's new coach from next season will understandably disappoint many Premier League clubs who were interested in appointing the former Barcelona manager.
Many touted Guardiola as the next Manchester United manager to replace Sir Alex Ferguson when he retires, whilst Manchester City were reportedly preparing for the arrival of Guardiola by hiring former Barcelona executive Txiki Begiristain as their director of football.
The news of Guardiola's move to the Bundesliga will be a massive blow to Chelsea especially, after Roman Abramovich made it clear that Guardiola was his first choice as a permanent successor to Roberto Di Matteo. Handing Rafael Benitez the title of "interim manager" after giving him a contract to the end of the season, was a move to ensure that Chelsea could freely appoint Guardiola in the summer without any problems.
However, it seems Abramovich will have to look elsewhere for the next permanent Chelsea manager. Here are some of the contenders who could be managing the current European Champions next season...
The appointment of the current 'interim manager' was not met with universal approval from Chelsea fans, as Benitez's previous connections with Liverpool did not endear him to the Stamford Bridge faithful. However he is quietly doing a good job, steering Chelsea to the semi-final of the Capital One cup; and picking up some impressive results in the league such as the 8-0 thrashing of Aston Villa and the recent 4-0 win at Stoke. A strong title run-in and winning either the FA Cup or the Europa League could put him in the frame as a permanent choice.
The highly rated Borussia Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp has insisted that he will not leave the club before his contract expires in 2016, despite reported interest from many of Europe's biggest clubs. The 45-year-old led Dortmund to consecutive Bundesliga titles for the last two seasons and they recently topped a Champions League group that contained both City and Real Madrid.
The Dutch manager previously managed Chelsea as a temporary replacement for Luiz Felipe Scolari, and retains popularity among Chelsea fans after enjoying some success at Stamford Bridge. He guided the club to the FA Cup and was seconds from the Champions League final, after undeservedly losing to Barcelona in the semi-final.
However, Hiddink's present employers are cash-rich Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala and it could prove a problem to tempt him from his current contract.
The 48-year-old Dane has made an impressive start to his career in the Premier League and Swansea's success this season has seen his stock rise considerably. Building upon Brendan Rodgers' philosophy and adding bargain buys such as Michu, Laudrup has masterminded wins at The Emirates, Anfield and Stamford Bridge, and the Welsh club are only 90 minutes from Wembley.
If Swansea continue to flourish, Laudrup could find himself managing at a club where his younger brother Brian once played.
Perhaps the appointment most coveted by Chelsea fans would be that of former manager Jose Mourinho. The man who delivered two Premier League titles during his three-year stint at Stamford Bridge is having a rough time of it with current employers Real Madrid. His side are off the pace in La Liga and many fans have already begun to turn on the man who could be politely described as an acquired taste.
Mourinho has always stated his love of the English game and his desire to manage in the Premier League again.
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