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Arsenal can lay down a marker

Arsenal
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Ranieri: Chelsea could wait for Pep

Former Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri has suggested Blues owner Roman Abramovich could be prepared to wait for the services of Pep Guardiola.

Abramovich is thought to be an admirer of Guardiola, who is to part company with Barcelona at the end of the season as he intends to take some time out from football.

Roberto Di Matteo is currently in interim charge of Chelsea following Andre Villas-Boas' departure in March, and the Italian has impressed in the role, leading the club to FA Cup glory last weekend and also to May 19's Champions League final.

Ranieri, who was sacked by Abramovich at Stamford Bridge in 2004, envisages that Di Matteo could remain in charge for next season, before the club's Russian owner moves to open talks with Guardiola.

"I think it could be a very good decision (for Di Matteo to stay on as Chelsea manager), but I do not know if Roman will maintain him," Ranieri said on ESPN.

"Maybe Roman wants a name, a big coach. Or maybe he could maintain Di Matteo and wait for Guardiola."

ESPN understands, though, that France's Laurent Blanc is a strong favourite to be named as Chelsea's next permanent boss, with the coach's contract in charge of Les Bleus due to expire after Euro 2012.

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