Luis Enrique ‘agrees deal’ to replace Chelsea manager Antonio Conte as he looks poised to sign Stamford Bridge contract until 2020.
Antonio Conte will stay in charge for now, although the club may axe him before the end of the season if their chances of finishing in the top four diminish much further.
They could drop to fifth before they play West Brom on Monday night, having picked up just five points from as many games.
Luis Enrique looks ready to replace Antonio Conte as Chelsea manager with a report in Spain suggesting the former Barcelona boss has already agreed personal terms.
Conte’s position in the Blues hotseat has become increasingly unstable in recent weeks following a 3-0 home loss to Bournemouth and then a 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Watford on Monday.
With Chelsea’s position in the top four now coming under threat, owner Roman Abramovich could be forced to act and, according to Sport, he is set to hand 47-year-old Enrique a two-and-a-half-year contract until the summer of 2020.
Enrique, who has also managed Roma and Celta Vigo, is available immediately after leaving Barcelona last summer.
While in charge at the Nou Camp he led Barca to two La Liga titles, a trio of Copa del Rey triumphs and glory in the 2015 Champions League final.
One of Enrique’s first games as Chelsea boss could be against Barca, who visit Stamford Bridge on February 20, before completing their Champions League last-16 tie in Catalonia on March 14.
Speaking after Chelsea’s humbling defeat at Watford this week, Conte insisted he does not fear being sacked and even challenged the club to wield the axe if they believe he is not good enough.
‘No, I’m not worried. I’m not worried about my job,’ said Conte. ‘I work every day, and I give 120 per cent. Okay? If this is enough, it’s okay.
‘Otherwise, the club can take a different decision. But I’m not worried. Tomorrow is another day. I can be the Chelsea coach or not. Which is the problem? My soul is clear.
‘I go to sleep without a problem that maybe, maybe, I could do this or that. I try to do everything. If it’s not good, the club can make a different decision. Life goes on.
‘To play football in a great club, it means you must have a personality because it’s simple to play when there is the confidence.
‘Especially in this type of moment, you can see who is (ready to play) for a great club. To play with personality and also to risk something.’