Frank Lampard is Chelsea’s no.1 manager choice with transfer ban set to be upheld
Maurizio Sarri’s agent has met Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia again to finalise his departure from Stamford Bridge, as Rio Ferdinand urged the club to appoint Frank Lampard as the Italian’s successor.
Sarri has agreed a two-year deal in principle to join Juventus, with the option for another 12 months. It is believed he has already begun talking to some of the Juve players about his plans for next season but is waiting to be given the go-ahead to leave by Chelsea.
The Blues want £5million in compensation for Sarri, which is the amount the 60-year-old would be paid if he saw out the year remaining on his contract. One of the proposals discussed in recent weeks was that the sum would be taken out of what was still owed for the loan of Gonazalo Higuain between the two clubs or be included in any future transfers.
Sarri’s switch has been delayed, though, and that has led his representative, Fali Ramadani, to hold further talks with Granovskaia.
Serie A champions Juventus remain confident that they will be able to announce Sarri’s appointment this week, especially as Chelsea have been stepping up their search for a replacement.
It is understood some preliminary talks have been held over their former midfielder Frank Lampard taking over, with Jody Morris also returning to the club as his assistant.
Chelsea have considered a number of options, including Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo and former Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri, but Lampard is the favourite for the post. However, sources deny that a deal is in place, saying that a potential move for the Derby manager cannot be stepped up until Sarri’s situation is resolved.
But with Lampard having proved he can work and develop young players, including Chelsea loanees Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori, during his first year as a manager at Derby, he is being viewed as the perfect choice.
The fact Morris worked in the youth set-up at Chelsea for five years before joining Lampard’s backroom staff at Pride Park is regarded as another positive about hiring the pair.
It is increasingly likely that Chelsea will be banned from signing players for the next two windows, despite appealing against Fifa’s punishment to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
It means they are going to have to turn to their academy players to help strengthen the squad next term, with Tammy Abraham, Reece James, Mount and Tomori all possibly playing important roles.
Ferdinand, who played with Lampard at West Ham, feels that is why the former England international is the ideal man to replace Sarri.
He said: “If Chelsea are going to get a transfer ban, I don’t think they can look anywhere but Frank, because he and Jody Morris know all the kids from 16 upwards. They know what they can all do.
“Chelsea have had the best young kids in the country for a while now and none of them get in the first team. You would think they would like to change that. If they want to change that, there is no one but Frank.
“No disrespect to Allegri, but Chelsea have had Carlo Ancelotti, Antonio Conte, Jose Mourinho, Sarri — all managers who have done great things — and never stuck with them.
“So, are you going to continue doing that and keep blowing money away with managers who you have to pay up after two years, or are you going to go with someone who the fans are going to love to have back?
“He played Mount and Wilson every game they were fit. He trusts kids, so he invigorates not only the first team and the fans, but the kids coming through. At a time when managers are scared to play kids, I think it will be refreshing.”