Southampton manager Mark Hughes faces the axe after Saturday’s 3-2 defeat by Fulham left Saints in the Premier League relegation zone.
The south coast club are level on points with the bottom side – Fulham, their recent vanquishers – and only sit 18th because of their slightly better goal difference.
Hughes, the former Manchester City, QPR and Stoke manager, has come under increased pressure due to Southampton’s woeful form, just eight months after he was appointed boss at St Mary’s.
Some bookies have Hughes as short as 1/2 to be the next Premier League manager dismissed, and if reports are to be believed, Saints chiefs are already assessing who could come in to succeed the 55-year-old.
According to A Bola in Portugal, Leonardo Jardim is one of the contenders for the position.
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The 44-year-old has been out of work for just over a month having been sacked by Monaco, ending his excellent four-year spell in quite miserable fashion.
Nevertheless, Jardim’s work with the principality club will go down in history; he helped develop the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Benjamin Mendy and Fabinho, won the 2016/17 Ligue 1 title ahead of Paris Saint-Germain, and also guided ASM to the Champions League semi-finals in the same season.
He has been linked with bigger jobs – previous reports claim he could replace Jose Mourinho at Manchester United – but Saints are believed to be keeping tabs on Jardim.
The report also names other candidates Southampton are believed to be looking at, with Brendan Rodgers, the Celtic manager, and unemployed Peter Bosz – formerly of Vitesse, Ajax and Maccabi Tel Aviv – on the club’s shortlist.
Fulham spent almost £100million in the transfer market last summer but are currently bottom of the Premier League, causing the club’s hierarchy to take swift action.
In their statement confirming Ranieri’s appointment, they admitted to speaking to a number of candidates.
And the Daily Telegraph claims these contenders include Wenger and former Monaco boss Jardim as well as ex-Chelsea and Tottenham boss Villas-Boas. It is understood all three politely declined to speak to Fulham.
Wenger is determined not to manage another Premier League club due to his strong affiliation with Arsenal and it is understood he has one eye on the Bayern Munich job, should they sack under pressure Niko Kovac.
In their statement on Ranieri, Fulham wrote: “Khan said he and his son Tony Khan, Vice Chairman and Director of Football Operations at FFC, considered and spoke with a number of potential candidates within the past week, with Ranieri becoming their mutual and obvious choice.
“Tony Khan and his staff will continue to oversee first team player recruitment and contractual agreements, and he will work closely with Ranieri.”
On Ranieri’s appointment, Shahid Khan said: “The objective of Fulham should never be to merely survive in the Premier League. We must at all times be a difficult opponent and should expect to succeed.
“This Fulham squad has exceptional talent that is contrary to its position in the table. I know this team is very capable of better performances.”
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“Claudio is risk-free and ready-made for the Premier League, and particularly so for what we need at this moment at Fulham. His recent body of work with Leicester City is literally legendary, and then you look at Claudio’s experience with Chelsea and big clubs throughout Europe, and it’s pretty evident we are welcoming an extraordinary football man to Fulham Football Club.”
Ranieri is best known for guiding Leicester to a spectacular Premier League title win in the 2015/16 season, however, he was also Chelsea boss earlier in his managerial career.
Jokanovic was actually the Italian’s first signing at Stamford Bridge in 2000.
Since Ranieri’s appointment at Craven Cottage, Fulham have been linked with out of favour Liverpool defender Joel Matip as they look to tighten up their defence which has conceded 31 goals in 12 league games.
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