Chelsea have reportedly inquired about the availability of AS Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim as they look to replace Antonio Conte in the summer.
According to a report from Yahoo Sport, the soon to be deposed Premier League champions are considering the 43-year-old for the club’s top job. In recent weeks, Antonio Conte has been heavily linked with a move away from club amidst reports of him not seeing eye-to-eye with their board.
This season has been an utter disaster for the Blues, who are in very real danger of finishing out of the Champions League places for the second time in the past three seasons. Chelsea are currently 8 points behind fourth placed Tottenham Hotspur, with 7 league games left to play.
Since he arrived in the summer of 2016, Chelsea have largely failed to land his first choice targets over the course of 4 transfer windows since then. They include the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Alex Sandro of Juventus, Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli and most recently Roma’s Edin Dzeko.
Failure to add more personnel to their squad in the summer has proven costly over the course of the season, with the likes of Alvaro Morata, Danny Drinkwater, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Olivier Giroud, Emerson Palmieri and Ross Barkley all arriving injured or while still in the process of recovery.
Chelsea still have the FA Cup to play for, but even winning that will only serve as mere consolation for not qualifying for Europe’s most prominent football tournament. A weeks ago it was reported that Paris Saint-Germain had even offered Conte £10 million in annual wages to move to Paris in the summer.
Leonardo Jardim, who has been managing football clubs since the age of 27, was thrust in the spotlight last season after he led a very young AS Monaco side to the Ligue 1 title in dominating fashion, bringing PSG’s four year reign as champions to an abrupt end.
Despite losing some big names like Kylian Mbappe, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Bernardo Silva and Benjamin Mendy, he has still managed to guide his side to a second place, where they are expected to finish this season and also to the final of the Coupe De La Ligue, which they lost to PSG.
He started his career as a manager in the Portuguese third division and then went on to manage the likes of Sporting CP and SC Braga. He has also managed in Greek Super League, where he led Olympiakos to the League title and the Greek Super Cup in one season.
The Venezuela born Jardim has proven his ability to get the very best out of his team despite having limited resources and that would have undoubtedly caught the eye of the Chelsea hierarchy. Not only that, but also his record of incorporating the youth in the starting XI.
Jardim has played a big role in the development of Thomas Lemar, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Kylian Mbappe, William Carvalho and Fabinho, not to mention helping Radamel Falcao return to his deadly best after returning from an ill-fated two year spell in the English top flight.
In November, he said he would consider leaving Monaco only for a bigger club, saying “I have never stayed long in my previous roles because I have always pushed myself to go higher. This idea has not changed – I would only leave here for a club of greater dimensions.”
While the Blues can certainly afford to pay him the wages he demands, it remains to be seen if he would consider coming to a Chelsea side who won’t be playing in the Champions League and one who won’t give him nearly as much time as AS Monaco to make them a top four side, title winning side again.