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Chelsea confirm assistant Clarke's resignation

Chelsea have confirmed that assistant manager Steve Clarke has handed in his resignation.

The former Scotland defender reportedly handed in the request on Thursday night and it could pave the way for a move to West Ham United, where he could work in a similar capacity under Gianfranco Zola, the new manager.

A Chelsea spokesman said: ''Chelsea can confirm that West Ham have made an approach with regards to talking to Steve Clarke.

''They have not been given permission to talk to him.

''Steve Clarke has tendered his resignation as assistant first team coach. We have not accepted his resignation. Talks are continuing.''

His appointment is expected to be announced in the next few days, once the club have agreed a severance package with Chelsea. Although the West London club are demanding £1.2 million in compensation because Clarke has two years left to run on his contract.

New Chelsea boss Luiz Felipe Scolari has already wished him well in his new post.

He said: ''Now I have been told he is going I am sad but I understand Steve. All people have projects in their life.

''I don't agree with his decision but I am happy for him because I like Stevie. I like him as a person and as a coach and I wish him all the best.''

Scolari had made efforts to persuade Clarke, whom he regards as his expert on English football, to stay.

''Yesterday I invited Steve to visit my house and we discussed the situation between West Ham and Chelsea,'' he added.

''I told him what I thought and this morning told (chief executive) Peter Kenyon what I think about Steve, that he is very important for me and for Chelsea.

''He is a man that is a link between me and the players and between me and the staff. He knows Chelsea very well and English players and clubs.

''When he told me about his projects I said to him I could be the man who would open more chances for him to be the head coach in England or in other countries.

''And I said I would give him more responsibility at Chelsea and would tell the press that Steve wanted to fly alone in the future.

''I don't know what happened in the night but when I came here in the morning I heard he had resigned.''

Clarke's decision comes as something of a shock given that he has ties that go back over 20 years with the club, but after four years as No 2 at Stamford Bridge it became clear that he would not fit in with the Scolari regime.

It is understood that Clarke has been effectively sidelined since Scolari was appointed in the summer, with the Brazilian relying almost entirely on Darlan Schneider, his other assistant, whom he brought with him from Portugal.

Despite taking what many have seen as a backward step, Clarke is said to be relishing the opportunity of linking up again with Zola, with whom he played for two years at Chelsea.

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