Former Blues manager Carlo Ancelotti has held talks with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich over a sensational return to the Stamford Bridge hot seat.

That’s according to tabloid reports in Italy, which claimed today that the 58-year-old has been in discussions with both Chelsea and Arsenal over a potential managerial role. However, Ancelotti is also the leading candidate to take over the Italian national team following the side’s failure to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1958. The Azzurri’s 0-0 draw with Sweden on Monday sealed their qualification fate, and led to the immediate departure of manager Gian Piero Ventura.

Speculation over Antonio Conte’s future at Chelsea has been rife since the summer, amidst rumours of a fractious relationship with the club’s hierarchy. Indeed, recent newspaper reports suggest the Italian is intent on leaving the Bridge sooner rather than later – feeling that it may be a case of jump before being pushed.

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Although the re-appointment of Ancelotti at Chelsea may seem ever unlikelier, given the desire of the Italian FA to select a new national team manager as soon as possible, it would not necessarily be an unpopular one with Blues fans. The Italian led the side to the domestic double in 2009-10, before being sacked following a trophyless season the following year. However, his win percentage while at the Bridge stands amongst the top three in Premier League history; only Sir Alex Ferguson and – who else – Jose Mourinho can boast of better statistics.

Ancelotti’s most recent appointment came at Bayern Munich in 2015, and despite leading the side to a dominant Bundesliga title defence in 2016-17, he paid the price for his charge’s point start to the season this term; being dismissed by the board back in September with Bayern standing third in the league and going down 3-0 at the hands of Paris St-Germain in the Champions League.

It’s not been the first and is unlikely to be the last time Carlo Ancelotti has been linked with a return to Chelsea this season; Conte was forced to respond to whispers about a possible return last month in the media, describing such reports as “bullshit”. It remains to be seen whether today’s reports carry more credence.

Header image by Светлана Бекетова [CC BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons