London: Gianfranco Zola has emerged as a serious contender to become Chelsea’s next full-time boss.
Although the Blues hierarchy has feared that Pep Guardiola was slipping from their grasp, the confirmation that the Catalan has opted to join Bayern Munich was still a blow to Roman Abramovich.
Former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, Borussia Dortmund’s Jurgen Klopp, Michael Laudrup of Swansea and Diego Simeone, whose Atletico Madrid side humiliated the West Londoners in UEFA SuperCup, have all been linked with the post.
According to a daily, Frank Rijkaard is also available, after being sacked this week by Saudi Arabia.
But with Blues fans starting to show their displeasure at interim manager Rafa Benitez, Zola will be a live option to take over in the summer when the board sits down next month to start planning the club’s future.
The Watford boss has never hidden the strength of his love for Chelsea, where an astonishing six-year spell as a player saw him voted as the club’s all-time leading player by supporters, the report said.
Earlier this season, Zola admitted that ‘one of his dreams is a day when he can become the manager of Chelsea.
He said that Chelsea is in his heart, and hoped that one day he will get the chance to be the manager.
The 46-year-old has previously conceded he would be "crazy to say no" if he was ever offered the Stamford Bridge job.