Mauricio Pochettino has been confirmed as Chelsea’s new permanent head coach.
Chelsea have announced Pochettino’s appointment, with the Argentinian signing an initial two-year deal that also includes a club option of an additional one year.
Chelsea have turned to the former Tottenham boss as their long-term replacement for Graham Potter, who was sacked in April.
Coach Bruno Saltor led Chelsea against Liverpool following Potter’s exit before Frank Lampard took over on an interim basis to lead Chelsea until the end of the season.
Having moved quickly to bring in Potter, who lasted just seven months at Stamford Bridge, following Thomas Tuchel’s dismissal in September, Chelsea were keen to take more time assessing their options this time around.
Mauricio Pochettino has been confirmed as Chelsea’s next boss for the 2023-24 season
The Argentine is likely to bring long-time assistants Jesus Perez (left) and Toni Jiminez with him
He becomes the fourth manager at Chelsea under co-controlling owners Behdad Eghbali (left) and Todd Boehly (right)
They embarked on an ‘exhaustive’ search which saw a number of managers spoken to before they eventually settled on Pochettino.
Chelsea’s owners – Todd Boehly, Behdad Eghbali, Jose E. Feliciano, Mark Walter and Hansjorg Wyss – said after confirming Pochettino as their new head coach: ‘The sporting team conducted a diligent and thoughtful process that the Board is proud of. We are delighted that Mauricio will be joining Chelsea. Mauricio is a world-class coach with an outstanding track record. We are all looking forward to having him on board.’
Co-sporting directors Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley also said: ‘Mauricio’s experience, standards of excellence, leadership qualities and character will serve Chelsea Football Club well as we move forward. He is a winning coach, who has worked at the highest levels, in multiple leagues and languages. His ethos, tactical approach and commitment to development all made him the exceptional candidate.’
Pochettino will be tasked with transforming an underachieving and bloated squad that has struggled to adjust after a £600million spend in the 2022-23 season – with Graham Potter and interim boss Frank Lampard unable to find a formula to inspire the team.
Mail Sport reported earlier this month that the 51-year-old was closing in on the Blues hotseat after jetting into London to sign his contract.
It is understood he sought talks with Lampard before the end of the season, though the managerial duo are yet to have held any planning discussions.
Pochettino is likely to bring long-serving assistants Jesus Perez and Toni Jiminez with him to Stamford Bridge, while there could also be a position for his sports-scientist son Sebastiano.
Perez, in particular, is known to play a key role within Pochettino’s set-up.
Pochettino’s first objective will be to galvanise an underperforming and bloated squad at Chelsea after the owners splashed out £600m this season
His first targets at Stamford Bridge are a new goalkeeper, central midfielder and striker after holding preliminary transfer talks with sporting directors Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley.
He will also be tasked with persuading Mason Mount to stay at Stamford Bridge this summer
The 51-year-old has spoken to the club’s hierarchy about his upcoming transfer plans
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.
However, there is an understanding that the club’s priority will be to trim what is an oversized squad to ensure they keep the right side of FFP rules and to make the party more manageable for Pochettino.
Pochettino is set to make a range of recommendations to the club’s hierarchy and recruitment staff with regards to how he feels the club can best use the transfer window to ensure the squad is as strong as it can be – but will not make any specific demands.
He is a huge fan of Mason Mount, who is out of contract at the end of next season, but the player’s future is mired in uncertainty. One of the requests he is likely to make is for the club to offer the England international a new deal to ensure he stays at Stamford Bridge.
Manchester United are launching a £55m bid for Mount, with Arsenal and Liverpool also interested in the England international. Newcastle have also made initial soundings for the player, who is valued at £75m by Chelsea.
Pochettino became the favourite to replace Lampard ahead of next season after Nagelsmann, who was believed to be the first-choice candidate of senior members of the Blues hierarchy, dropped out of the race amid concerns over the recruitment process.
Confidence is low at Stamford Bridge after a turbulent season that began with the sacking of Thomas Tuchel in September.
Interim boss Frank Lampard has failed to revitalise Chelsea – winning one of his eight games
The club legend was supposed to steady the ship, but instead confidence has sunk even lower
Pochettino held talks with the club’s American owners last year following the dismissal of Tuchel but Boehly and Eghbali opted to appoint Potter instead, though the former Brighton boss endured a nightmare spell and was axed after just six months in charge. He won 12 of his 31 games in charge.
His assistant Bruno Saltor was put in charge for one game before Boehly asked club legend Lampard to lead the team for the remainder of the season.
Lampard was seen as someone who could steady the ship after being handed the interim job but he did not have the impact many would have hoped, with the ex-Everton boss losing his first six games in charge.
His sole victory was a 3-1 win away at Bournemouth before a 2-2 draw against relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest at home, which saw the underdogs take the lead before netting a second-half equaliser.
Chelsea endured their worst Premier League season as they finished 12th, a huge 27 points adrift of the Champions League places.
Pochettino’s arrival comes despite his past as a fan-favourite coach at Chelsea’s bitter rivals Tottenham, where he spent five-and-a-half years leading them to a Champions League final and challenging for the title before he was axed in 2019 following a poor start to the 2019-20 campaign.
He also helped unearth a number of youngsters at the club – being instrumental in Harry Kane’s rise to the top – and established a handful of players in the England team.
Pochettino even talked up the prospect of returning to Spurs one day in 2020, saying he ‘wanted to win a title with Tottenham before I die’.
Pochettino’s appointment comes despite his close ties to Tottenham – whom he took to a Champions League final in 2019
‘It was an amazing journey that finished in the way that, of course, no one wants,’ he told BT Sport. ‘But deeper in my chest, my soul, my heart – I am sure that we will cross [paths] again.
‘From the day that I left the club, my dream is to be back and to try to finish the work that we didn’t finish.
‘We were so close to winning the right trophies, the Premier League and the Champions League. But we stopped and, of course, I am looking forward to moving on. I am so motivated for the next project. But, deep inside, I would like to be back one day because the club is special. The fans are so special.
‘Maybe in five years, maybe in 10 years, and now I’m going to conspire with the universe and to throw out the idea that before I die, I want to manage Tottenham again and try if possible to win one title.’
Pochettino was the preferred candidate for a number of Tottenham players – and a large section of Spurs supporters – to become their next head coach after the sacking of Antonio Conte. However, there had been no contact from the north London club with a view to appointing the South American.
There is hope that his ability to spot and nurture young talent will be well received at Chelsea with the club heavily investing in the future by snapping up stars like Wesley Fofana, Benoit Badiashile, David Datro Fofana, Noni Madueke, Mykhailo Mudryk, Enzo Fernandes and Andrey Santos.
He has not worked since he was sacked by PSG last summer and is looking to bounce back
The strength of Chelsea’s squad, despite their problems this season, and the club’s spending power should provide Pochettino with the foundations to win his first trophy in English football.
But with the club set for a transition period he faces a huge task to get them performing again after a bruising campaign.
Lampard used his final press conference as Chelsea’s interim boss to fire a warning to Pochettino as he lamented the ‘dropped standards’ at the club.
‘The standards collectively have dropped. I can be honest about that now that it’s my last game, I might not see some of them that much any more,’ he said after the 1-1 draw with Newcastle on the final day of the season.
‘The standards of the collective for a club like Chelsea have to be at the maximum or you won’t be physically competitive enough, or you won’t be able to play at the highest level.
‘If you’re not together in the dressing room, and you’re not vocal in the dressing room, driving each other and competitive because I want your place and you want mine. Any top team has to have that.
‘When I came in very quickly I could see that wasn’t there enough. Of course a very good manager will help that, but everyone has to take responsibility, players and club alike.
‘I’m a big fan of Pochettino as a manager, I think he’s a very good manager,’ he said.
‘But it’s not about which individual it might be, it’s about getting the right high level of manager.
‘Pochettino’s history tells you he works at clubs of this sort of level and then letting him get to work with the players, he creates a solid identity in a team that can win some games.
‘Those things aren’t always overnight things, so we have to be careful with expectations a little bit.
Lampard said following Thursday’s 4-1 defeat by Man United at Old Trafford that Chelsea was the new manager’s problem now.
‘I enjoyed the process and I enjoyed coming in and I wish the new manager well. I don’t know. It’s his problem,’ he said.
Damning reports highlighted how standards had dropped during Chelsea’s disastrous season.
According to The Telegraph, at least one player has had a post-training nap and missed the team bus, half of dozen of squad have openly admitted they want to leave and some haven’t bothered to tie their laces ahead of training.