Chelsea have been granted permission to speak to Derby County manager Frank Lampard with a view to appointing the ex-Blues midfielder as Maurizio Sarri's replacement at Stamford Bridge.
The 41-year-old spent 13 years as a Chelsea player, winning 11 major honours, and has been consistently linked with the vacancy at his former club since it became clear Sarri was set to leave.
Former Napoli boss Sarri returned to Serie A to take charge of Juventus earlier this month after a single season in London, with Chelsea finishing third in the Premier League and winning the Europa League.
Derby became the first club of Lampard's managerial career when he was appointed on a three-year contract in May 2018.
He guided the Rams into the Championship play-off final, where they lost 2-1 to Aston Villa, but his achievements in an impressive first season in management were enough to convince Chelsea he has a bright future ahead of him.
Lampard scored a club-record 211 goals for Chelsea, while only three players have made more appearances for them.
He now seems set for an emotional return, although Derby stressed the need for a swift resolution with pre-season around the corner.
A Rams statement read: "Derby County Football Club can confirm that they have granted permission for Chelsea Football Club to speak to Frank Lampard about the vacant managerial position at Stamford Bridge.
"With pre-season fast approaching for both clubs it is hoped this will allow Chelsea to swiftly conclude their discussions.
"The club will make no further comment until it is appropriate to do so."
Sarri helped Chelsea reach the EFL Cup final, where they lost to Manchester City, and then delivered glory in Europe by beating Arsenal in Baku, but his time in charge was a tumultuous one, marked by unrest among his players.
Sarri won 39 games in 2018-19 in all competitions, the most in a debut season at Chelsea since Jose Mourinho in 2004-05, but his spell will also be remembered for goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga's refusal to leave the field when called to be substituted at Wembley and a humiliating 6-0 defeat at Manchester City in February.
Should Lampard be handed the reins at Chelsea, he will be unable to bring in new players due to the transfer ban imposed on the club, and he will need to usher in a new era after the departure of star forward Eden Hazard.