Chelsea hold AVB replacement talks

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Roberto Di Matteo has emerged as the leading contender to become the next permanent Chelsea manager, according to BBC Sport.

The 41-year-old Italian has taken temporary charge of first-team affairs at Stamford Bridge ever since the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas in March.

After guiding the Blues to the Champions League final with victory over Barcelona earlier this week, Di Matteo has added to his growing reputation having overseen a considerable upturn in the club's form.

With just one defeat in his 15 games at the helm, the Chelsea favourite has also secured passage to the FA Cup final following an impressive 5-1 thrashing of Tottenham at Wembley earlier this month.

A number of Chelsea's senior players had become disillusioned with life in west London under Villas-Boas. But, having galvanised the squad, and got everyone playing for each other, Di Matteo's influence has been pivotal in the latter part of the season.

Blues midfielder Frank Lampard is among those players backing the interim boss for the full-time role.

"I can't speak highly enough of him. Look at the record - it's not coincidence," he said. "He's created an atmosphere, a spirit and determination.

"What he's done in bringing it together and getting a result like this [the victory over Barcelona], and the results we've had before, is amazing."

Technical director Michael Emenalo, who is overseeing the recruitment process, has already interviewed Di Matteo for the job, and having also been asked to make preparations for Chelsea's pre-season tour of the United States, his position is certainly strengthening.

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