Chelsea will not be rushed into appointing a permanent successor to Maurizio Sarri if the Italian is sacked and will hand the reins over to Gianfranco Zola until the summer instead, according to reports.
Sarri is set for crunch talks over his future at Stamford Bridge following Sunday’s 6-0 defeat against Manchester City – it was the biggest loss Chelsea have suffered since 1991 and leaves them in sixth place in the Premier League table.
Chelsea have yet to make a decision over whether to stick with Sarri, though his dig at owner Roman Abramovich in the wake of the defeat will have done little to help his cause.
Should he be axed before the end of the season, Sport Mediaset report that assistant coach Zola will be put in charge on a caretaker basis until the end of the season.
The former Chelsea playmaker, who was added to Sarri’s backroom team in the summer, has had mixed success as a manager.
Zola’s last stint was in charge of Birmingham City but he was axed after winning just two of his 24 matches in charge, with the club ultimately suffering relegation.
He has taken on a prominent role for Chelsea in domestic cup matches and European League games, conducting media duties in place of Sarri.
Chelsea have had success with interim managers in the past, with Roberto Di Matteo notably winning the Champions League while Rafa Benitez secured Europa League glory.
Guus Hiddink could be another option to take temporary charge of the Blues, while Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone is believed to be the frontrunner to get the job on a permanent basis should Sarri get sacked.