Chelsea step up search for Sarri successor with Lampard the leading candidate

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Frank Lampard Maurizio Sarri
Getty/Goal
The Blues legend is among many names on the list as director Marina Granovskaia considers the options to replace Juventus-bound Sarri

Chelsea are in talks with several candidates but Frank Lampard remains the leading contender to replace Maurizio Sarri as manager, Goal understands.

Juventus are keen to complete a deal for Sarri, who wants to join the Serie A champions and, as reported by Goal, has already reached an agreement with the Italian club.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Sarri has claimed that the "call of home is strong", hinting that a move to Juve isn't far from completion.

He said: "For us Italians the call of home is strong. You feel that something is missing. It has been a heavy year. I begin to feel the weight of distant friends, elderly parents I rarely see, My loyalty to Naples? [Francesco] Totti was the last one-club man."

Sarri would be in line for a salary increase from €5.6 million per year to around €7m in Turin, while Chelsea are requesting £5m to buy out their manager from his contract.

Blues director Marina Granovskaia now leads the search for Sarri's successor on behalf of the club's owner Roman Abramovich, a similar process she undertook last summer when Antonio Conte left Stamford Bridge.

Derby County manager Lampard is the front runner and has long been sounded out by the club, while ex-Blues assistant manager Steve Holland, who was lined up as a caretaker manager in February when poor results left Sarri close to being sacked, is also in the frame.

Former Paris Saint-Germain head coach Laurent Blanc remains of interest to Granovskaia, as he was the back-up option had the deal fallen through to take Sarri from Napoli to Stamford Bridge in 2018.

Javi Gracia, meanwhile, is thought to be among the candidates to join Chelsea but he has, as yet, had no contact with the Europa League winners and is focused on Watford.

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo and Massimiliano Allegri have also been linked to the job but the departing Juventus boss is keen on taking a year out of the game and would need some serious convincing to join Chelsea.

With Juve happy to pay the exit clause in Sarri's contract, the Blues are not standing in the way of their manager, who wants to leave after winning his first major trophy in management with the 4-1 victory over Arsenal in Baku.

Chelsea are seeking to appoint a manager who can further promote their academy as a transfer ban has halted deals into the club for the next two transfer windows.

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The Blues are, meanwhile, working on a deal to bring in Mateo Kovacic, who they can, despite the ban, sign permanently from Real Madrid due to the terms of his loan deal.

They are also in talks to sell star man Eden Hazard to Real Madrid for around €120m (£106m/$135m).

Additional reporting from Romeo Agresti

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