Paris St-Germain's pursuit of a replacement for Carlo Ancelotti has prompted interest in the Tottenham Hotspur manager, André Villas-Boas, with the French champions understood to have contacted the Portuguese's representatives to sound him out over his availability.
PSG, bankrolled by the Qatar Investment Authority, claimed their first league title in 19 years and reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League under Ancelotti's stewardship last season but the Italian is being courted by Real Madrid and has made it known he wishes to leave for the Bernabéu.
France's champions have, as yet, refused to sanction that move – a one-year extension was activated in Ancelotti's contract upon securing qualification for Europe's elite club competition – but the president, Nasser al-Khelaifi, has kickstarted a search for a replacement in the acceptance that the Italian is set upon leaving.
José Mourinho, Manuel Pellegrini, Walter Mazzarri, Fabio Capello and Rafael Benítez were considered for the position, and Guus Hiddink, of Anzhi Makhachkala, had emerged as the likeliest successor having appeared set to leave Russia for Parc des Princes to fill the upcoming vacancy. However, the Russian club now expect the 66-year-old Dutchman to remain with them because of a clause triggered in his contract that will technically tie him to the team for a further year.
Although PSG have not entirely given up on the possibility of securing Hiddink's release, they have sought to cover all bases by checking on the highly rated Villas-Boas. The Portuguese's whirlwind managerial career has taken him from Académica in his home country to Spurs via one glittering year at Porto and 256 fractious days at Chelsea, with the 35-year-old yet to start a second season at any of his clubs. He is contracted until 2015 at White Hart Lane and, having finished fifth last month, has ambitious plans in the transfer market - not least retaining Gareth Bale – to infiltrate the Champions League places next term.
Yet PSG, sensing an opportunity, are believed to have contacted his agent, Carlos Goncalves, to ascertain his client's state of mind. The manager's representative has yet to return to PSG's Qatari hierarchy with a definitive answer but it appears likely that Villas-Boas will not leave the London club only 12 months into his role, despite suggestions there is a £10m buyout clause in his contract.
In April he had admitted to being "flattered" to be linked with a possible move to Real Madrid this summer, but said he was "very focused on trying to get another year at one club … the same club."
"I have a contract," he said. "I was given an opportunity [by Tottenham] and was extremely grateful."
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image: © Vladimir Maiorov