London calling? Chelsea on alert as departing Barcelona boss Guardiola gets cold feet over his sabbatical
By Neil Ashton
PUBLISHED: 07:32 GMT, 25 May 2012 | UPDATED: 07:44 GMT, 26 May 2012
Chelsea's search for a new manager has taken a dramatic twist after Pep Guardiola indicated he is open to an offer from the Champions League winners after quitting Barcelona.
Guardiola, who took charge of his final game for Barca Copa Del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao on Friday, had maintained he would take a year’s sabbatical.
But he said: ‘I will be pleased to receive their calls, but for the next months I have to charge my batteries and charge my mind.
‘I will wait. I am going to rest and I will wait. I will be ready once a club want me. If they seduce me I will train again.’
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich had been pursuing Jose Mourinho, but he signed a new four-year deal at Real Madrid this week.
Abramovich is under pressure from supporters to appoint Champions League-winning manager Roberto Di Matteo as full-time boss, but the Russian is exploring other options.
He will wait for Guardiola to make a final decision on his future and has not been put off by talk the coach will take a year off before returning to club football.
Guardiola received an approach from Roma to replace Luis Enrique last week, but he insists his next move will be to England.
The Barca boss, who has won 13 trophies during his four years in charge at the Nou Camp, was flattered by the Serie A club’s approach and held informal talks with them.
Chelsea insist they will have a new manager in place by the time the squad meet for pre-season training in July. They held a board meeting at their training ground on Thursday morning to discuss potential candidates, but the options are running out.
If Guardiola carries out his promise to spend a year out of the game, Abramovich may yet turn to Fabio Capello. Chelsea’s billionaire backer is breaking up the Champions League-winning team to create a new pathway for future success.
There is a temptation to bring in Capello as the hardline boss for one season before making another bid for Guardiola. Unlike most other managers under consideration, Capello has emerged as the only candidate willing to work on a one-year deal.
Abramovich’s alternative, other than appointing Di Matteo, is to find a manager who will bring in a playing style to suit Guardiola in advance of his arrival at the end of next season.
Meanwhile, Hulk says he wants to move to the Barclays Premier League, with Chelsea his preferred destination. The agent of Porto’s Brazilian striker, Teodoro Fonseca, said: ‘Hulk will only leave Porto for a big club and a big league and I can say we like the Premier League a lot. Chelsea are a club who are more interesting than ever, because they’ve become European champions.’