Roberto Di Matteo heads shortlist for Aston Villa manager job
By Mark Ashenden
Last Updated: 20/05/16 9:32am
Roberto Di Matteo is the "preferred" candidate for the Aston Villa manager's job, according to Sky sources.
It was revealed that Randy Lerner sold the club to the Recon Group, owned by Chinese businessman Dr Tony Jiantong Xia, on Wednesday with the deal awaiting ratification from the Premier League and Football League.
It is understood that Di Matteo, who stepped down at Schalke a year ago after a seven-month spell at the German club, has already spoken to chairman Steve Hollis and Lerner and will next speak with Xia next week.
Hollis says that Lerner's commitment to do what's right for Villa should not be questioned and that the American is happy to hand the ownership over to the "extremely ambitious" Xia.
Di Matteo led Chelsea to the UEFA Champions League in 2012, stepping up from his role as assistant manager to replace Andre Villas-Boas, only to leave six months later following a 3-0 Champions League defeat by Juventus.
Representatives of Xia held discussions in New York following the conclusion of takeover negotiations and are known to be interested in a number of candidates led by Burnley boss Sean Dyche and ex-Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers.
David Moyes is also a candidate, although it is believed that the former Manchester United and Everton manager will not fancy working in the Championship.
Ex-Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson is also in the frame, although many of his supporters at Aston Villa - including David Bernstein and Adrian Bevington - have now left the club.
SSNHQ also understands that Damien Comolli was initially touted as a possible technical director but the former director of football at Liverpool is not aware of interest and has had no contact with the Chinese consortium.
It is estimated that Dr Xia will pay between £60m and £70m for the club which New York-based investor Lerner bought 10 years ago and has been trying to sell since 2014.
In a "farewell statement" on the Villa website, Lerner said: "Tony's excitement to develop Villa Park shone through. I remain convinced that this is a crucial part of the club's future as it provides a critical, long-term second source of revenue and therefore sustainability for the club."