Owner Roman Abramovich is set to ignore former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho for the Blues' job as interim boss Rafael Benitez is set to pave way for either Juventus' Antonio Conte or Malaga's Manuel Pellegrini.
Benitez privately accepts his interim spell at the helm will not last beyond the end of the season given the scale of fan unrest his appointment has caused for Abramovich, the Daily Mirror reports.
While Benitez, a likely target for Real Madrid, is determined to go out with at least one piece of silverware and a top-four finish, Abramovich seems likely to anger the fans once again by ignoring their wish for a reunion with Mourinho, it reported.
The 'Special One' again hinted this week he plans to come back to England at the end of the season but it appears his Bernebeu predecessor Pellegrini and Conte are above him on Abramovich's wanted list, the paper said.
Pellegrini's agent Jesus Martinez claimed the Chilean, who took minnows Villarreal to the Champions League semi-finals in 2006 and has already steered Malaga to the knockout phase in their first year in the competition, had been approached by the Blues.
Martinez said Chelsea and other clubs have asked, but nothing else official has been said, adding Pellegrini would love to manage in the Premier League, but he would also like to go to Germany, Italy and other championships, and there is plenty of time to analyse where he will be next season.
Quizzed over the links with Madrid and Chelsea, Conte, also suggested to be a potential Madrid successor to Mourinho, said such appreciation is pleasing and should also please the club because it shows that they made the right choice a year-and-a-half ago, adding it means we are doing well. (ANI)