Chelsea have already opened negotiations with former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique to replace Antonio Conte if they finally decide to sack the Italian boss before the end of the current season, according to Sport.

The Spanish publication says in its Wednesday (7 February) front cover that the Premier League champions have told the Spaniard he will be given a contract for the rest of the campaign and for a further two years to help build a new long-term project.

Conte's position at Stamford Bridge has come under major scrutiny in recent days after back-to-back defeats to Bournemouth and Watford put Chelsea's Champions League place in jeopardy.

The defending champions are already 19 points behind runaway leaders Manchester City and just one ahead of fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League table after 26 games.

Sport says that Conte will be given two more games to turn around the Blues' fortunes against West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League on Monday (12 February) and Hull City in the FA Cup fifth round the following weekend (16 February), but defeat in either game could bring an end to the Italian's tenure at Stamford Bridge.

Indeed, the Spanish publication suggests that the Chelsea hierarchy have lost the faith in Conte and are only giving him another chance due to financial reasons.

The former Juventus boss only signed a new deal at Chelsea in the summer and, according to the report, the Blues will need to pay him around €30m (£26.7m, $37m) in compensation if they decide to part ways with him before the end of the current season.

Avram Grant, Roberto Di Matteo, Rafa Benitez and Guus Hiddink have all taken the reins of Chelsea on an interim basis in recent seasons following the dismissals of Jose Mourinho, Andres Villas Boas, Di Matteo himself and Jose Mourinho.

However, Sport say Chelsea want a long-term solution to help the Blues to secure a top four finish this term and then start a new long-term project in the summer.

With few high-profile managers available in the middle of the season, Enrique has emerged as the main candidate to replace Conte if the Italian fails to turn the tide.

The former Celta Vigo and Roma boss is currently enjoying a sabbatical away from football after he decided to leave Barcelona at the end of last season.

The Spaniard won the Champions League, two La Liga titles and three Copa Del Reys during three years at the Nou Camp and, according to Sport, Chelsea believe that he could be the perfect fit to lead the west Londoners.

The Blues host Barcelona in the first-leg of the Champions League last 16 on 20 February and, if the report from Sport comes to fruition, one of Luis Enrique's first games at Chelsea could be against his former side.

Luis Enrique
Luis Enrique is currently enjoying a sabbatical away from football. Getty Images