Luis Enrique remains Chelsea’s first choice to be Antonio Conte’s permanent replacement but the 47-year-old does not want the job before the end of the season.
The former Barcelona coach is on a year’s sabbatical after winning nine trophies in three seasons at the club.
He is extremely reluctant to bring it to a premature end, throwing himself into the daunting task of taking over a squad stretched by an overload of games and low on morale.
He is also keen on bringing in at least some of his former backroom staff from those three seasons at Barcelona but they are currently in the middle of a campaign at Spanish club Celta Vigo.
Luis Enrique’s former No 2 Juan Carles Unzue is Celta manager, and coach Robert Moreno, fitness coach Rafel Pol and sports psychologist Joaquin Valdes are all also at the club on contracts until 2019.
The potential presence of Juliano Belletti at Stamford Bridge would give the new coach some support. Luis Enrique left Barcelona before Belletti arrived in 2004 but the pair know each other well.
But it still seems unlikely the former Spain international will come to Chelsea’s rescue should they ditch Conte before the end of the season.
Finishing his sabbatical will also give him time to improve his English. He already has an acceptable level after spending time in Australia following his retirement from playing in 2004.
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