Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Portugal bosses say they are aware he has been added to Chelsea’s ’short-list’ of candidates to replace sacked Avram Grant as manager.
But, unsurprisingly, the Stamford Bridge club are refusing to make public the field of contenders being considered by Russian owner Roman Abramovich.
And the Portuguese Football Federation appear to want to make their Brazilian head coach a new offer to stay on after Euro 2008 within the next few days after vice president Amandio De Carvalho admitted to news sources: “I already know that Chelsea are interested in Scolari.”
Chelsea are hunting a new boss after axing Grant last Saturday.
Inevitably, a raft of candidates have emerged in speculation – including former Inter Milan chief Roberto Mancini, who left on Tuesday having already signalled his plan to leave following the Champions League defeat by Liverpool in March.
Former Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard, Blackburn Rovers boss Mark Hughes and Russia coach Guus Hiddink are all understood to be targets, although Hiddink’s advisors have already claimed he would not be interested – even though strong links with Abramovich already exist through the Russian national side.
And none of the others have publicly expressed a desire to take up the lucrative and prestigious role.
Now Scolari, 59, who was head-hunted by England after Sven-Goran Eriksson’s dismissal in 2006 but rebuffed the Football Association’s advances, leaving the way open for Steve McClaren to fill the breach, is also in the frame.
World Cup winner Scolari, known as Big Phil because of his allegedly abrasive temperament, has twice scuppered England’s chances in major tournaments while in charge of his native Brazil and Portugal.
And he has led the Portuguese to another European Championship finals, which start next weekend.
He is said to earn around £2m a year but his contract expires after the Euro 2008 finals. Chelsea, with Abramovich’s riches, would easily be able to be dwarf that salary but the Portuguese Federation look set to comply with his request for talks over a new deal.
Meanwhile, former Juventus and Italy boss Marcello Lippi has ruled himself out of the running as Grant’s successor – because he does not speak English.
He said, through an interpreter, “I must transmit my ideas and philosophy to the team and could not do that in English.”
A proposed return for Jose Mourinho, who won two Premier League titles at Chelsea, has never been officially denied but the self-styled Special One now looks certain to replace Mancini at Inter, leading to fears he may raid Stamford Bridge for favourites like Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Ricardo Carvalho.