Gianfranco Zola dismisses talk of Chelsea backroom role

Chelsea favourite Gianfranco Zola has dismissed the talk of him making a return to Stamford Bridge. The Italian has been recently tipped to take up an assistant job with the Blues looking to recruit Maurizio Sarri as their next head coach in the summer.

In an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, Zola clarified that he is on a year’s sabbatical following his dismissal from the managerial role at Birmingham City in April 2017. The 51-year-old added that he has not received any offer from the Blues to rejoin in a coaching capacity. He said: “One week there is and one week there isn’t something linking me with Chelsea. But I know nothing about this hypothesis. Besides, after Birmingham I’ve taken a year out.”

The future of Antonio Conte has been in question since the turn of the year with the Italian taking a swipe at the club’s board for their transfer policy. The Blues continued to lose back-to-back Premier League games and this further intensified speculation over the 48-year-old’s position. Despite this, Conte has repeatedly iterated his commitment towards the west London giants, and he has suggested that he will honour the remaining 18 months of his contract so long as the club’s hierarchy are content with his job on and off the pitch.

Chelsea are presently on a three-match unbeaten run which has included a hard-fought 1-1 Champions League draw against Barcelona, and the next couple of weeks could give a fair reflection whether Conte will remain in-charge beyond the summer. The Blues have tricky away games in the Premier League against Manchester United and Manchester City prior to their away-leg against Barcelona in the Champions League round of 16, and the team’s failure in this period could urge owner Roman Abramovich to take a drastic step.

Abramovich has dismissed 10 managers since taking over the club in 2003, and Conte has admitted that he should be prepared for the worse, should he fail to match the club’s expectations come the end of the season.

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