When Matt Law talks, Chelsea fans listen. Of all the reporters who cover Chelsea regularly, he seems the most dialed-in with the the club’s management. So when Law speculates about Chelsea’s plans, it’s worth paying attention because he’s probably working with inside information.
On Wednesday, for example, he outlined how Chelsea are approaching the search for the man to replace Antonio Conte, who is presumed to be a dead man walking despite winning one league title and reaching two FA Cup finals in his brace of seasons at Stamford Bridge.
Law confirms what has already been widely reported — that Chelsea aren’t keen to pay Conte’s £9 million (or thereabouts) contract buyout, and also buy-out his staff. And, on top of that, pay another club a buyout fee to nick their manager. A million here, nine million there and pretty soon we’re talking serious money.
Per Law, the club hope that thanks to Conte’s stellar reputation, he will be ensconced in a new job by August, thus negating the buyout clause. Depending upon where the coaching carousel stops, he might end up at Juventus, Napoli or even Arsenal, subject in part to which manager Chelsea snag and who Arsenal find to fill their job, thus leaving a vacancies to be filled.
Should that not come to pass, however, the recently parsimonious Blues have a Plan B. Or more accurately, a List B. Because, as Law writes, the club has assembled both A and B lists of candidates. The A-list contains the big names who will cost a lot (Enrique is rumored to want a staggering £15 million per season, for example, others perhaps £7 million or so.)
But if Chelsea are compelled to pay the buyout, then they might turn to their B-list. That’s the economy model, the less expensive option. In other words, no big names, no fancy clubs, but rather up-and-coming managers with promise. More risk, too, since they’d be unproven at a club with the egos, politics, pressures and expectations of a Chelsea.
We don’t have any names from that list at the moment. So feel free to supply your own. But Law claims that some people close to Roman Abramovich have been urging him to give up his 15-year habit of buying Crown Jewel managers and instead go mining for a rough diamond who can be polished a winner at Chelsea.