Chelsea are interested in making Roberto De Zerbi their new head coach, the reports emerged today.

Sky Sports have the Italian as one of four names under consideration.

That puts him on the same starting grid as Enzo Maresca, Kieran McKenna and Thomas Frank.

Chelsea interested in De Zerbi? Why wouldn’t they be?

A pattern has emerged of them looking to Albion and what they are doing, in case you had not noticed.

De Zerbi led the Seagulls to a double over Chelsea in 2022-23, when both teams were more or less at full strength.

Chelsea fans love to point at four wins over the Seagulls in the last year but they were all by single-goal margins in evenly-fought games.

One was a friendly, effectively a training session dressed up as a meaningful fixture for a USA audience.

There was the Carabao Cup, then a somewhat confused league game at Stamford Bridge when Albion had just got back from Athens.

Then came a return fixture which, with everything in their favour, Chelsea should have won convincingly rather than be demanding the final whistle.

De Zerbi would be going to a club who love to spend money and have different ways of finding the sort of finances to which they first became accustomed when Roman Abramovich broke the mould for limitless Premier League extravagance.

They have a midfield built around the player De Zerbi used as the focal point of his own engine room at the Amex.

They have a left-sided defender he wanted to keep and an attacking midfielder he wanted to sign.

They have a winger he thinks of as a son and from whom he would hope to get the very best.

He has worked with Sam Jewell in terms of player recruitment.

He would not even have to make a big decision over dropping Robert Sanchez.

He doesn’t want to play golf on Wednesdays and Chelsea would offer the demands of Thursday night European action.

Domestically, De Zerbi now does indeed “know the league” and some of the vocabulary and turns of phrase he comes up with point to an improvement in his English.

The list of Albion employees heading to Chelsea is already in double figures and you could add half a dozen or so if De Zerbi and his staff made the move.

What that would mean for his legacy at Albion, especially among fans, would remain to be seen.

We know he was emotional when he left, not least when fans sang “we want you to stay”.

It feels very much like he did not know what was coming as late as the Friday lunchtime before the Manchester United game.

He is keen to point out that, before being a player and a coach, he was a fan, up on the terraces at Brescia.

But, while he has a strong connection to Brighton, he remains a professional.

He might think twice before joining Atalanta, who are Brescia’s arch rivals.

But the feeling might not be the same if the chance to coach a big-spending club, with lots of talent already on board, were to come along in a league he loves.

His view may well be of Chelsea as a huge club, a European juggernaut, a perspective which has developed over the last two decades even if many of us older observers from within this country do not quite see them in that way.

There would be compensation due to him for Albion but not as much as would have been the case had they come in for him while he was in charge at Albion.

But Albion wanted a quick break to end any doubts and let them get on with their own succession plan.

Purely for what he did with Albion, De Zerbi deserved the thanks, love and emotional farewell he received at the Amex last Sunday with no strings attached.

But a switch to Chelsea would test those affections - IF it were to happen.