Wigan chairman Dave Whelan last night gave Liverpool permission to speak to manager Roberto Martinez, following an approach from the Carling Cup winners.
The Anfield side are seeking a manager following Wednesday’s departure of Kenny Dalglish.
Whelan last night conceded: “If Liverpool are serious then I may lose him.”
Whelan has always said he felt the Spaniard was destined to manage one of Europe’s top clubs and he would not stand in his way should one come calling.
“When they phoned me I was actually with Roberto having a meeting on what we are doing next season,” he said.
“I did promise Roberto and I have always said when a big club comes he would have permission to talk to them and they don’t come any bigger than Liverpool.
“I gave him permission and he will be talking to them soon — I don’t know when, but quite soon.
“When Liverpool sacked Kenny I have to say I thought Liverpool would be knocking on the door and sure enough they are.”
Martinez will not be the only manager owners Fenway Sports Group speak to in their quest to replace Dalglish and he would be far from the populist choice.
Questions have already been asked about his suitability for a club the size of Liverpool, considering he only has experience at the bottom end of the Premier League with Wigan and in the Football League with Swansea prior to that.
However, his achievements at the DW Stadium — particularly this season when the Latics finished as the form side of the division with seven wins in nine matches to escape relegation, while Liverpool were floundering — have been on a shoestring budget with players of considerably lower quality than those at Anfield.
He is a forward-thinking manager and a great student of the game though, and that has obviously gone in his favour in the first stage of the shortlisting process.
Whelan has no doubts about the achievements of Martinez, who rejected an approach from Aston Villa last summer, in his three seasons at the DW.
But he knows if FSG do decide he is the man to take Liverpool forward he will be powerless to stop the Spaniard from leaving.
“I would love to keep Roberto. He’s brought youngsters on and is an absolutely superb manager,” he added.
“I think he’s going there with an open mind. I knew that the day would come when this happened, so it wasn’t unexpected.
“He is a good manager so I am not surprised a club like Liverpool want him.
“It is up to him and Liverpool now. I can imagine he will want to manage such a big club but I would willingly keep him if I could.
“He only signed a new three-year contract three months ago so I would be due compensation — but I would rather have Roberto than the compensation.”
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