MASSIMILIANO ALLEGRI has ruled himself out of the Chelsea job – leaving Frank Lampard in pole position to take charge.
The Blues are searching for their next manager after Maurizio Sarri agreed a £7million deal to join Juventus after just one season at Stamford Bridge.
Allegri emerged as a top target after winning five consecutive Serie A titles with Juventus before he decided to leave in May.
But the Italian tactician has revealed that he intends to take a year away from football to recharge his batteries.
Speaking to Castello Sforzesco in Milan, he said: "I will stay [away] for a year because I have to get back my private life, to find my family, children and friends after so many years.
"These last 16 years I have been in a centrifuge. I will give my family, children and friends some affection.
"This year, I will need this [time off] in order to recharge my batteries for the next season."
Allegri's decision to snub Chelsea will fuel speculation that Lampard is set for a fairy tale return to Stamford Bridge.
The Blues are now expected to make a formal approach for the 40-year-old following Sarri's return to Italy.
Lampard proved to be a huge hit with Derby as he guided them to the Championship play-offs during his first season in charge.
He has remained as a fan favourite at Stamford Bridge after spending 13 glorious years with the club as a player.
Chelsea fans were sent into frenzy when a cheeky tweet reminded them that Lampard signed for the club 18 years ago today.
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