Wales manager Chris Coleman favourite for Swansea City job

Soccer round-up: Chelsea’s Kessie bid rejected, Zaha call-up and Pickford injury

Wales manager Chris Coleman has admitted wanting to manage in the Premier League again. Photograph: David Davies/PA Wire.

Swansea City intend to spend the next 48 hours weighing up their options before deciding on their new manager, with Chris Coleman, Ryan Giggs and Gary Rowett emerging as the leading candidates to take over at the Liberty Stadium.

The Welsh club want to make an appointment swiftly, ideally in time for Tuesday's Premier League match at Crystal Palace, but Swansea's American owners will not be rushed into a critical decision. Alan Curtis, the first-team coach, and Paul Williams, the assistant manager, are in place to take charge of the team for Bournemouth's visit on Saturday.

At this stage Coleman appears to be the frontrunner to replace Bob Bradley, who was sacked on Tuesday evening after only 11 games at the helm. Coleman has managed in the Premier League before, Swansea is his hometown club, which means the 46-year-old would be a popular choice with the supporters, and his reputation in the game is high on the back of leading Wales to the European Championship semi-finals in the summer.

The situation with Coleman, however, is far from straightforward. The Football Association of Wales (FAW) refused to grant Coleman permission to speak to Hull City in the summer and would not want to lose their manager halfway through their qualification campaign for the 2018 World Cup.


Although Coleman stressed in September that he had unfinished business with Wales and was motivated by the prospect of trying to take his country to the 2018 finals in Russia – his contract expires at the end of the qualification campaign – he also admitted wanting to manage in the Premier League once more.

Coleman did not feel strongly enough about pursuing Hull’s interest to rock the boat with the FAW, yet it is unclear whether he would take the same view if Swansea came calling and put together a financial package that would be well beyond what the governing body could offer.

Giggs, Coleman's former Wales team-mate, is also under consideration. Huw Jenkins, the Swansea chairman, is a strong admirer of the former Manchester United player, who missed out on the Swansea job when Bradley was appointed. Yet Stephen Kaplan and Jason Levien, the Welsh club's majority shareholders, may need some persuading to be convinced about the merits of turning to a man with no managerial experience.

Equally it remains to be seen how Giggs would feel about taking a position that he recently missed out on, one that represents a bigger challenge now than when he was interviewed in October.

Rowett, who was sacked by Birmingham City a fortnight ago with the side seventh in the Championship, fits the old Swansea prototype in that he is a young and ambitious manager seen as having a promising future, but he has no Premier League experience and it would be a leap of faith to ask him to turn round the fortunes of a club that sits second from bottom in the Premier League table, four points and 16 goals short of safety.

Chelsea’s €25m bid for Kessie rejected

Atalanta have rejected a €25 million offer from Chelsea for Franck Kessie, with the Ivorian midfielder's agent admitting there is also interest from several other Premier League sides including Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal.

Kessie, who spent last season on loan at Cesena, has been in outstanding form as Atalanta have risen up to sixth place in Serie A after 18 games. The 20-year-old has scored six goals in 16 appearances for Gian Piero Gasperini’s side, leading to comparisons with compatriot Yaya Touré.

Kessie, is expected to be selected in the Ivory Coast squad for the African Nations Cup this week having become a regular in coach Michel Dussuyer’s side in recent months. A proposed move to Sunderland in August broke down after he was denied a work permit but his new status as a regular international and one of the highest-rated young midfielders in Italy’s top flight should mean that is no longer an obstacle to any move to England.

Chelsea are keen to find a replacement for Brazil international Oscar, who completed his move to Chinese Super league side Shanghai SIPG for £52 million (€61 million) this week.

However, Kessie’s agent George Atangana has confirmed that their initial bid was rejected by Atalanta, who are thought to value their prized asset at around €40 million.

“We have a lot of interest from the Premier League – Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal,” he said.

“I cannot say at this stage how much he will cost but we are talking about one of the best young players in the world. But for us the most important thing is that the technical project is the right one for him. Franck is very young so we have to be very careful about his development.

“Chelsea are very interested and it is a great club but we must take our time to consider all the options,” Atangana, who will meet Chelsea officials in London next week, added. “Now we are in January so he has to play at the African Nations Cup for Ivory Coast so I am not going to rush anything.”

England international Zaha named in Ivory Coast squad

Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha has been named in the Ivory Coast's provisional squad for the African Nations Cup.

Zaha has previously earned two caps for England but as both came in friendly matches he is free to play for the country of his birth.

The 24-year-old recently decided to switch allegiance having grown frustrated at his lack of England recognition, with his last cap coming in 2013 .

England boss Gareth Southgate has since indicated that he would like Zaha to remain eligible for England.

But Southgate will have to wait to see if Zaha answers the Ivory Coast’s call for the tournament, which begins in Gabon next month.

If he does decide to participate then struggling Palace will be without one of their star performers this season for up to six weeks. Manchester United defender Eric Bailly is also in the 24-man squad.

Pickford injury blow for Sunderland

Sunderland’s hopes of avoiding relegation appear to have been dealt a significant blow after the goalkeeper Jordan Pickford sustained a serious-looking knee injury during the team’s St Stephen’s Day defeat at Manchester United.

Pickford’s precise prognosis will be confirmed by a specialist but initial assessments from Sunderland’s medical staff indicate the England Under-21 goalkeeper, who has undergone scans, could be sidelined for at least three months.