Brighton have given Chelsea permission to speak to Graham Potter about the vacant manager’s job at Stamford Bridge, the PA news agency understands.
Potter has become the early favourite for the Chelsea helm after the Blues sacked Thomas Tuchel on Wednesday morning.
The 47-year-old Seagulls boss has a hefty compensation clause in his Amex Stadium deal, but Chelsea’s new owners are understood to be relaxed about meeting a buyout.
Chelsea’s new chiefs sacked charismatic manager Tuchel on Wednesday morning, just hours after the Blues’ chastening 1-0 Champions League defeat at Dinamo Zagreb.
Owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali were understood to have already made the decision to unseat Tuchel ahead of that loss in Croatia however.
Chelsea’s new chiefs have been at the Stamford Bridge helm for 100 days since their £4.25 billion purchase from Roman Abramovich.
The ambitious US owners are understood to have felt they could not wait any longer to take action, fearing the Blues losing further ground on Premier League powers Manchester City and Liverpool.
Chelsea’s new board is thought to have analysed Tuchel’s 100 games as Blues boss, identifying a worrying trend of 24 goals conceded in the first 50 matches and 53 in the second 50.
The Chelsea owners are understood not to have lined up a replacement, in order to complete the process by the book.
Boehly and Eghbali will now approach and interview a small number of candidates, with Brighton’s Potter chief among a tight group of names.
Former Tottenham and Paris St Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino and ex-Real Madrid chief Zinedine Zidane are also thought to be in consideration.
“Chelsea Football Club has today parted company with head coach Thomas Tuchel,” read a Blues statement.
“On behalf of everyone at Chelsea FC, the club would like to place on record its gratitude to Thomas and his staff for all their efforts during their time with the Club. Thomas will rightly have a place in Chelsea’s history after winning the Champions League, the Super Cup and Club World Cup in his time here.
“As the new ownership group reaches 100 days since taking over the club, and as it continues its hard work to take the club forward, the new owners believe it is the right time to make this transition.
“Chelsea’s coaching staff will take charge of the team for training and the preparation of our upcoming matches as the club moves swiftly to appoint a new head coach.
“There will be no further comment until a new head coach appointment is made.”
Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard as Chelsea boss in January 2021, immediately adding steel and focus to the Blues.
The likeable and respected German boss steered Chelsea to their second Champions League triumph just four months later, with a stunning 1-0 win over Manchester City in Porto.
The Blues’ poise and threat dwindled slowly at the tail-end of last season though, with £98million signing Romelu Lukaku disappointing and eventually heading back to Inter Milan on loan for this term.
Tuchel guided Chelsea through the murky waters of UK Government sanctions amid the fallout of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The 49-year-old kept Chelsea’s show on the road while Abramovich conducted a quickfire sale, with Los Angeles Dodgers part owner Boehly eventually winning a very public race.
Chelsea’s new owners were understood to have been desperate for Tuchel’s tenure to continue as a success, but a nucleus of growing problems left them feeling the only option was to make a change.
Boehly and Behdad are thought to have felt Tuchel had lost his way tactically, struggling to get the best out of players as had been his early Chelsea trademark.
New chairman Boehly has acted as interim sporting director since taking the Chelsea helm, and Tuchel had huge influence on the Blues’ summer transfer policy.
The Blues spent a record £273 million in overhauling the squad, but more work is expected to follow in January.
Chelsea have since slipped to three defeats in seven matches at the start of the new campaign, with Tuchel’s tactics changeable and his demeanour increasingly tetchy.
Tuchel’s relationship with Chelsea’s players was understood to have become increasingly strained, while communication with the Blues’ new owners had proved troublesome across another turbulent summer.