Mauricio Pochettino is leaving Chelsea by mutual consent. The Argentine, 52, met with the club's sporting hierarchy on Tuesday at which both parties agreed the time was right to separate, one year into a two-year contract which had the option for an additional 12 months.

Pochettino's side had rallied late in the season to qualify for the Europa League through a sixth placed Premier League finish, adding 19 points to their tally from 2022-23 while also reaching the final of the EFL Cup and the semifinals of the FA Cup. Despite a strong end to the campaign, there were numerous signs that the former PSG and Tottenham boss could move on from Stamford Bridge, warning earlier this month that his departure "would not be the end of the world".

Indeed the Argentine likely leaves with his managerial standing likely enhanced by a late season rally that secured sixth place for an occasionally ramshackle, but ultimately promising side. No team increased their previous season's points total by more in the 2023-24 Premier League. Pochettino said, "Thank you to the Chelsea ownership group and sporting directors for the opportunity to be part of this football club's history. The club is now well positioned to keep moving forward in the Premier League and Europe in the years to come."

Prior to the end of season review, Pochettino had met co-controlling owner Todd Boehly for dinner on Friday night. It was down to Boehly, Behdad Eghbali, and sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart to determine Chelsea's view on the head coach. It will now fall to them to decide who succeeds Pochettino.

Chelsea are understood to be one of many keen admirers in Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna, who has also been linked to the vacancy at Brighton and Hove Albion. That vacancy was caused by the departure of Roberto De Zerbi, who has previously been linked with the Blues. He is understood to be keen to remain in the Premier League. The next manager will be the fourth permanent occupant of the Stamford Bridge dugout since the Clearlake Capital consortium took over the club two years ago. 

Stewart and Winstanley added, "On behalf of everyone at Chelsea, we would like to express our gratitude to Mauricio for his service this season. He will be welcome back to Stamford Bridge any time and we wish him all the very best in his future coaching career."

It is a matter of no little irony that Stamford Bridge will welcome Pochettino back in just two weeks for the annual Soccer Aid charity match, where he will coach a World XI. A more permanent role could well emerge by then with potentially enticing vacancies at AC Milan and Bayern Munich. Sir Alex Ferguson's high profile lunch with Pochettino in 2016 seemed to be a statement that he was the heir apparent at Manchester United, where Erik ten Hag's future hangs on the thinnest of threads.

Meanwhile, Chelsea find themselves with the headache of finding another man to fill the vacancy at Stamford Bridge, even if that job is somewhat more enticing now that Pochettino has at least secured Europa League football. There is still the significant headache of the Premier League's Profit and Sustainability Regulations, with exclusive analysis for CBS Sports in March calculating that the Blues were on course to be significantly over the £105 million loss limit over a three year period. That will not be eased by the compensation that Pochettino is expected to receive.

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