Chelsea have settled on Mauricio Pochettino as their new manager for next season and are working with him on player recruitment, the only consideration now being when exactly to make the announcement.
Pochettino will bring assistant Jesus Perez with him as well as his usual coaching team but will not start officially in the role until the end of the season.
Pochettino and the club’s sporting directors Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley are discussing the squad improvements that need to be made, with a striker, midfielder and a goalkeeper to be signed in the summer, despite the need also to sell surplus players to balance the books.
Argentina and Inter’s Lautaro Martinez is the most likely centre forward target. Like many clubs, Chelsea are interested in Victor Osimhen, though getting him out of Napoli will be problematic. Chelsea have already signed Christopher Nkunku for £63m from RB Leipzig.
Chelsea still want Declan Rice but they will face competition with Arsenal for his signature and also with Liverpool to sign Brighton’s Alexis Mac Allister. Aston Villa’s Emiliano Martinez would be a goalkeeping option.
Pochettino wants to persuade Mason Mount to stay, the Chelsea player having only one year left on his contract and is yet to agree to Chelsea’s offer of extension, while he will talk with returning Romelu Lukaku, currently on loan at Inter, to ascertain whether he can be part of Chelsea’s team next season.
Pochettino’s son Sebastian, goalkeeping coach Toni Jimenez and assistant coach Miguel D’Agostino are all expected to join the coaching team.
Talks have been extensive and detailed over past days and are now at a developed stage of refashioning the squad for next season after what is on course to be Chelsea’s worst season since 1994 but Pochettino is now the choice of owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali and the board, following the recommendation of Stewart and Winstanley.
Pochettino has a shown a willingness to be engaged across the club, as the owners want, communicating with Stewart and Laurence and technical director Christoph Vivell as well across the academy and other departments.
This fits with their vision of a joined-up club rather than a manager only concerned with the first team and the short term. They are said to be on the same page regarding the areas in which the team needs strengthening, on outgoing players and all want Mount to stay.
There are no fears over a clash of personalities, which led to Thomas Tuchel being dismissed. The Chelsea owners are said to welcome being challenged by Pochettino and his staff.
The issue with Tuchel was that they perceived that he was brooding on issues, seemingly resenting questions and yet not challenging the owners openly.
Pochettino was considered in September as Tuchel’s replacement but at that point, as new owners in the English game, there was a reluctance to appoint an ex-Spurs manager to the job, given the historic rivalry between the clubs.
That view has softened, seemingly with fans as well, partly due to the failure of Graham Potter’s style and a feeling that a more forceful presence is needed.
Chelsea’s owners are reflective about their first season in charge, recognising that they made mistakes.
However, the effect on sanctions on the Roman Abramovich regime was more debilitating than has been commonly appreciated, directly led to the departure of Antonio Rudiger and left the club playing catch up in many areas.
Though the new owners were criticised for dismissing Abramovich’s transfer negotiator Marina Granovskaia, it became apparent it was politically impossible to keep an executive so closely tied to sanctioned Abramovich, given the war in Ukraine.
Petr Cech might have stayed but made it clear he wished to leave when Granovskaia was going.
An early approach to have former Liverpool transfer guru Michael Edwards in charge for the summer fell through because of family commitments, meaning they were initially left without expertise.
It is insisted the Boehly never wished to step into that breach as interim sporting director and is now delighted to have stepped back to allow Stewart and Winstanley to lead.
Though the relationship with Tuchel was never going to work long term, in retrospect it is accepted that it might have been better to retain the German coach for a season for a more orderly transition.
But as new owners, they wanted to get on with a fresh era as quickly as possible.
Having dismissed Tuchel, with relations pretty bruised on both sides, there is a feeling that they overcompensated in appointing Graham Potter because he was so adept at working the executives and owners.
Chelsea’s owners are said to still rate Potter and feel he may yet prove himself at a top club but the team’s form ultimately had become so bad they felt they had to intervene and change track.