Reports linking Luis Enrique to Chelsea have intensified this week, amidst claims the Blues are lining up the team of the former Barcelona boss andJuliano Belletti as potential replacements for Antonio Conte.
Conte has endured a frustrating second season in charge of the Blues, and has been publicly critical of the club’s transfer policy. The fact that Chelsea even showed an interest in signing either Andy Caroll or Peter Crouch this month indicates that Conte may becoming desperate in his search to find a new striker to provide competition and support to Alvaro Morata. Crouch and Caroll may be great players in their own way, but they should not be the players that Chelsea are looking to sign as long-term solutions, especially considering that they are the defending Premier League champions.
Speculation that grown rife that the 48-year-old Conte will end up quitting Chelsea at the end of the season due to his disagreements with the side’s hierarchy over his role. Whilst the Italian did sign a new contract last summer, he did not extend it beyond next year. Conte, however, has insisted that he will only quit the club at the end of the season if he is sacked. If that should happen, Enrique is being touted as one of the leading candidates to take over the Blues as he is currently unemployed.
Enrique the perfect candidate?
The 47-year-old Spaniard certainly seems to possess the winning mentality and track record Blues owner Roman Abramovich will be looking for, having led his side to two La Liga titles and the Champions League title during three seasons in charge of Barcelona before quitting last summer. According to reports in the Daily Star this week, the Blues are also looking towards former defender Juliano Belletti as a potential director of football should Enrique be drafted in.
Although Chelsea fans have largely remained supportive of Conte, the signs are pointing towards him leaving at the end of the season and returning to Italy.
With Italian football now in need of a shake-up, given that the national team have failed to qualify for the World Cup and the club teams – apart from Juventus – have been underwhelming in the Champions League during recent years, the desire for Conte to return to his homeland may be strong.