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Brighton target Kieran McKenna after confirming Roberto De Zerbi exit

Kieran McKenna
Kieran McKenna is regarded as one of the brightest young managers in Europe - PA/Zac Goodwin

Brighton are expected to make a move for Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna after announcing that Roberto De Zerbi will leave the club following their final match of the season on Sunday.

De Zerbi and Brighton have “mutually agreed” to move in separate directions after months of uncertainty over his future, leaving the Premier League club in need of a replacement head coach before the new season.

De Zerbi has enhanced his already strong reputation during his time at Brighton and has admirers at some of Europe’s biggest clubs.

Reports in Germany have indicated that De Zerbi is of serious interest to Bayern Munich, who are still searching for a new manager.

There is also renewed doubt over the position of Xavi Hernandez at Barcelona.

In the Premier League, there remains uncertainty over the managerial positions at both Manchester United and Chelsea.

Roberto De Zerbi - Roberto De Zerbi to leave Brighton following final match of season
Roberto De Zerbi will leave the Amex following Sunday's end-of-season match against Manchester United - AFP/Glyn Kirk

Brighton are understood to be huge admirers of McKenna, who has led Ipswich to back-to-back promotions and is regarded as one of the brightest young managers in the European game, but they could yet face competition from United in the battle for the 38-year-old’s signature.

It remains to be seen whether McKenna will even be willing to leave Ipswich this summer, so soon after leading them into the Premier League. Telegraph Sport understands that if McKenna does leave, Ipswich could look to recruit Rob Edwards from Luton Town.

Michael Carrick is another manager who has impressed Brighton but, as revealed by Telegraph Sport this week, the former Manchester United midfielder is expected to sign a new deal at Middlesbrough.

De Zerbi, who led Brighton to their highest top-flight finish last season and to the last 16 of the Europa League earlier this year, said he now plans to “take a break” before deciding on his next move.

“I am very sad to be leaving Brighton, but I am very proud of what my players and staff have achieved with the support of everyone at the club and our amazing fans in the past two historical seasons,” said De Zerbi.

“We have agreed to end my time at Brighton so that the club and I can continue to work in the way that suits each of us best, following our own ideas and visions, as well as our work and human values.

“I have really enjoyed an intense and challenging two years working in the Premier League, not least competing in four major competitions this season. Leaving now provides me with time to take a break before deciding on my future plans.”

Tony Bloom, the Brighton chairman, said: “Roberto has given us two excellent seasons of service in which he has led the club to new heights, not least our first ever European campaign which will live long in the memory of Albion fans.

“We have mutually agreed to end Roberto’s contract at a time that suits both parties allowing us the earliest opportunity to plan for next season, and Roberto plenty of time to consider his next move and his future

“I am sure our fans will give Roberto and his staff a wonderful and fully deserved send off at the Amex before, during and after tomorrow’s match.

“In the meantime, I’d like to thank Roberto and his staff for all their hard work in the past two seasons. They all leave our club on good terms and with our very best wishes for the future.”

De Zerbi’s second season in England has been more challenging than last year, with the club struggling with a series of injuries to key players. Ahead of Sunday’s meeting with United, Brighton are 10th in the Premier League table.


Where De Zerbi could go next

Bayern Munich

The deposed champions of Germany said they had mutually agreed to terminate Thomas Tuchel’s contract and despite speculation they could yet keep him beyond this season, he is widely expected to leave in the summer with a return to the Premier League – and potentially Manchester United – mooted. Bayern have been linked with a variety of successors, including Erik ten Hag, Ralf Rangnick and Zinedine Zidane, but De Zerbi is thought to feature highly on the club’s shortlist.

Barcelona

Xavi’s future remains in considerable doubt, despite his decision to perform a U-turn and continue as coach. Earlier in the season Xavi said he would be leaving in the summer but later changed his mind, though that has not stopped speculation he could be sacked after Barca saw bitter rivals Real Madrid seal the La Liga title.

Juventus

The Serie A giants sacked Massimiliano Allegri two days after he led the side to the Italian Cup with a 1-0 win over Atalanta. Allegri was sent off for ranting at officials and Juve said his behaviour was ‘incompatible with the values of Juventus’. Paolo Montero is in interim charge for the remainder of the season and De Zerbi knows all about Serie A from his playing days, as well as spells in charge of Palermo, Benevento and Sassuolo, among others.

Manchester United

Erik ten Hag is effectively on trial under the new regime at Old Trafford under Sir Jim Ratcliffe and De Zerbi has been mentioned as a contender for the job in the past if Ten Hag is sacked. However, it is understood that he is not among the favourites if a position becomes available.

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