Italy manager Antonio Conte has been installed as favourite to take over at Chelsea next season and has reportedly held talks with the club, but Atletico Madrid chief Diego Simeone remains another top contender for the job.
The Mirror's Aaron Flanagan sourced a report from Sky Sport's Fabrizio Romano, who claimed Chelsea officials met with Conte in Rome this week regarding the position:
#Chelsea and Conte have talked precisely in Roma about his possible contract as manager. Conte vs Simeone for Chelsea so...more than Allegri— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) February 18, 2016
As mentioned by the Italian journalist, Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri was also being considered by the Blues, but it would seem his Old Lady predecessor, Conte, is in the lead to assume the position.
Earlier this week, interim Chelsea chief Guus Hiddink suffered his first defeat since arriving at the club's helm in December, watching his side lose 2-1 to Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie.
Despite the Dutchman's success in recent months, it appears the west Londoners are seeking a higher-profile name to inject new life into the squad, and Azzurri boss Conte seems to fit the requirements.
According to Romano, Simeone fits that mould, too, after he reported the Argentinian was also in talks to replace Hiddink in the English capital:
Simeone arrived at the Vicente Calderon in 2011 after spending several short stints with clubs in his native Argentina and Catania in Italy. His five-year tenure with Atleti is the longest management spell of his career.
The 45-year-old has twice been elected La Liga Coach of the Year (2013, 2014), and Sky Sports Statto recently highlighted his stellar record in Spain, particularly his side's affinity for clean sheets:
Diego Simeone has won his 100th La Liga game as Atletico Madrid coach— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) February 6, 2016
Clean sheets 83
Conte may be the easier target to prise away from his current environment, however, given that his contract with Italy expires after this summer's European Championships.
The former Juve boss replaced Cesare Prandelli at the national team's helm in the wake of their disappointing run at the 2014 World Cup, penning a two-year deal with the Italian Football Association (FIGC).
Simeone led Atletico to the La Liga crown in 2014, breaking up Barcelona and Real Madrid's Spanish duopoly in the process, but Conte claimed three back-to-back Serie A titles as Juventus manager.
Both tacticians would bring different approaches to the role and plenty of ambition, but Chelsea face a fight to land either managerial maestro at Stamford Bridge this summer.