Chelsea launch Luis Enrique approach as Antonio Conte sacking moves closer

Antonio Conte has been given a stay of execution and is expected to be in charge next Monday when Chelsea face West Brom.

But that could be his last game at the club with reports from Sport in Spain claiming talks with Luis Enrique are underway.

Conte is refusing to resign and Express Sport understand that one of the reasons he has not been sacked yet is due to a lack of options as caretaker manager.

It was thought Enrique wanted to wait until the summer while Carlo Ancelotti is also taking time out.

Thomas Tuchel has been linked with the job this morning, but now Sport claim Chelsea have opened talks with the former Barcelona boss.

Enrique has been the favourite to replace Conte since the summer when time began to tick on the Italian’s reign.

Chelsea’s season is unravelling at an alarming pace and they are already 19 points behind leaders Manchester City.

If Tottenham avoid defeat in the north London derby on Saturday Chelsea will drop out of the top four ahead of their match on Monday.

And Conte has looked a frustrated figure on the touchline and in press conferences for the last month.

Chelsea were beaten 3-0 by Bournemouth on January 31 and followed it up with a shocking 4-1 defeat to Watford on Monday.

Conte could even have been sacked yesterday but Chelsea are not sold on any of the interim options.

But with Enrique out of work Chelsea will try and convince him to come in early and save their season – and beat his former club Barcelona in the Champions League.

They will give Enrique the opportunity to steady the ship and plan ahead for next term.

It comes after Conte has constantly vented frustrations in the transfer market despite spending over £200m on new players.

Conte practically dared the board to sack him on Monday by saying: “I’m not worried about my job. 

“I work every day, and I give 120 per cent, OK? If this is enough, it’s OK. 

“Otherwise, the club can take a different decision. Every day and every press conference, you ask me if I’m worried. 

“No, I’m not worried. I can be the Chelsea coach or not. Which is the problem?”

He was backed by his players though with Gary Cahill insisting they must take responsibility 

“This is the worst I’ve felt for quite a while,” Cahill said. 

“Performance-wise, I didn’t recognise us or myself. It was abysmal. Whatever is decided, the players have to take responsibility. 

“The manager has done an absolutely unbelievable job. We need to keep strong.”

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