The pool of candidates for Chelsea's next managerial hire were reduced yesterday when claims of Pep Guardiola agreeing to a three-year contract at Manchester City appeared in German media. It's not a surprising outcome. Guardiola was always going to be a long-shot — despite Abramovich's apparent adoration for the ex-Barcelona man, Pep's connections within City's power structure were always going to give the Sky Blues the advantage in that race.
While there are a few other viable, top level candidates, not many of them can claim to be 2015 FIFA World Coach of the Year finalists like the current Bayern manager. In fact, only two others can make that claim: Luis Enrique and Jorge Sampaoli. The former is obviously not moving anywhere from Barcelona. But what about Sampaoli? Could he leverage his success with the Chilean national team into a high-paying, high profile job in club football? The Sun certainly seem to think so.
SunSport understands Blues owner Roman Abramovich is considering [Sampaoli], 55, as long-term successor to Jose Mourinho, who was sacked last week. Sampaoli led hosts Chile to Copa America glory in the summer and Real Madrid have also made contact. He will hold talks on January 4 with the Chilean Federation before deciding his future.
-source: The Sun
The obvious caveats apply. It's The Sun and it's not even Rob Beasley or Martin Lipton, though the same story appears in the Daily Mail, too. And it has been picked up by other outlets, too, including several in Chile. Still, it could be absolute nonsense.
But there could be truth in there, too, including and perhaps not limited to Sampaoli's job with Chile seeming anything but stable. In addition to the shifting politics of the Chilean federation, with a new president soon to be announced, Sampaoli's also facing some sort of tax issue, the details of which escape my feeble Spanish knowledge, but give the impression that it's not a happy situation. Maybe a change of scenery is exactly what the doctor ordered.
"My future depends on the elections for a new president [for the head of Chile's football federation], on January 4. It depends on whether the new president likes our project."
"Before listening to offers, I will first present my new project for the Chile team. That is what I say to all the clubs who have contacted me."
-Jorge Sampaoli; source: AS via Mirror
Sampaoli has had more than his fair share of success in the last half decade or so, with multiple domestic and continental titles with Universidad de Chile and then of course the big success last summer, guiding Chile to the Copa América title. The 55-year-old Argentinian, whose playing career was cut short at age 19, is known for his aggressive, direct, high-tempo attacking tactics, not altogether dissimilar to the ideas of a certain Marcelo "El Loco" Bielsa.
Regardless of whether Chelsea are actually interested or not, here's our good friend Tim Palmer with a scouting report on Sampaoli that's well worth your read.