Zidane has emerged as a shock leading candidate to replace Antonio Conte if he departs Stamford Bridge this summer.

Speculation about the Italian’s future has grown throughout the season and it is now expected that he will not be leading Chelsea for next year’s campaign.

Maurizio Sarri was widely touted as Abramovic’s favourite to takeover and talks had been progressing well, however there has since been a breakdown in negations with Napoli refusing to lower their £7m release clause and Chelsea refusing to pay.

Zidane leaving Real has now positioned him as the favourite – as he is seen as the right man for the job amongst Chelsea elite.

His unrivalled success in the Champions League meets the Chelsea owner goals to create a team to challenge in Europe.

Also, insiders say appointing Zidane would appease Eden Hazard.

The Belgian winger has grown unhappy with Chelsea’s defensive tactics this season, often criticizing Conte’s decisions to field him in a ‘false 9’ role.

Zidane has been vocal in his admiration of Hazard – courting him for several seasons whilst manager of Madrid and would be looking to build a team around him should he be Chelsea’s next manager.

Stadium delay will help Chelsea – Purslow

Chelsea’s decision to halt plans to redevelop Stamford Bridge will benefit the team, says former managing director Christian Purslow.

Russian billionaire owner Roman Abramovich has put work on the 60,000-seat ground on hold after the estimated cost rose to £1bn and following delays to the renewal of his UK visa.

Abramovich has now reportedly “withdrawn” his visa application.

“I expect a very strong focus now on investing in the team,” Purslow said.

Purslow who left Chelsea at the end of the 2016-17 season, said the decision to explore the redevelopment has always been “really marginal from an economic standpoint”.

As well as the cost of the work increasing from £500m to £1bn, there have been delays including a dispute with a local family.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Purslow added: “They have decided to bite the bullet and say this is not the right time to pursue this project.

“I was not surprised at all. Concentrate their resources on the playing side of Chelsea and I think Chelsea fans will be delighted that that is the priority for the foreseeable future.”

Chelsea ended the Premier League season in fifth, 30 points behind champions Manchester City.

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