Sonia Bompastor is set to replace Emma Hayes – who is she, and what does the move mean for Chelsea?

After months of speculation, The Telegraph’s Tom Garry reports that Chelsea have finally penned a deal with Emma Hayes’ successor. The longstanding Blues boss announced in November that she would be leaving London at the end of the 2023/24 season, taking the reins of the USWNT instead.

Sonia Bompastor was among the early names flouted as potential replacements, and with her appointment now all but confirmed, it’s time to dive deeper into her career achievements. Currently in her third season as the head coach of les Fenottes, the 43-year-old has turned her side into an indomitable force in the French Division 1 Féminin, having previously played for the club between 2010 – 2013.

Bompastor took the reigns after a disappointing 2020/21 campaign saw les Lyonnaises miss out on the Division 1 Féminin title by a single point to Paris Saint-Germain, having suffered a loss and a draw against the Parisian side.

It was the first time that Olympique Lyonnais had failed to win the league title since their dominance began in 2006/07, and directly led to Bompastor’s promotion from her previous role within the club’s academy.

Chelsea look destined to prise the former French international away from Lyon this summer though, with Bompastor having spent just under fifteen years at the club across both playing and managerial roles.

Bompastor looks set to add more silverware to the cabinet before her impending departure, with her side currently seven points clear of PSG, and with just three more matches left to play in the league. The two sides will, however, face off in a two-legged UEFA Women’s Champions League semifinal later this month.

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It is in that very competition that Bompastor could write her name in Lyonnais history for a final time – if her side can see off les Parisiennes over the course of 180 minutes. The winner of the all-French semifinal will face either Chelsea or Barcelona in Bilbao on May 25, in a match that could prove to be a poetic end to her life in Lyon, or the perfect start for the fans of the club she will be taking over.

Emma Hayes has never lifted the UEFA Women’s Champions League trophy. Bompastor, by contrast, has laid hands on it thrice – one as a manager, and twice as a player. It is the one piece of silverware that currently sits between Hayes and an entirely-filled cabinet, otherwise packed full with everything she could have possibly won with Chelsea. It is also the one trophy that her replacement could have a direct say in.

Chelsea’s participation in the Bilbao final is not yet certain. They must first navigate past Jonatan Girádez’s impeccable Barcelona side – a team to whom they bowed out of this very competition at the semifinal stage last year, with the Blaugrana stunning VfL Wolfsburg in Eindhoven to lay their hands on the elusive trophy.

But if – and it’s a big if – Chelsea can find a way past Barça when they meet at the Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys and Stamford Bridge, Sonia Bompastor may find herself being loved or loathed by the Blues fans in Bilbao on May 25.