Andre Villas-Boas has been offered the opportunity to become the next coach of Chelsea after Roman Abramovich resolved to pay FC Porto for his services.
The youngest manager to win the Europa League has been asked to fill the vacant position as Guus Hiddink resisted the Chelsea owner's attempts to coax him back into frontline club management.
Abramovich is understood to have met Villas-Boas on one of the Russian billionaire's fleet of yachts last weekend. Though a strategy for reinvigorating a Chelsea squad that failed to win a trophy last season was discussed along with a transfer budget and personal terms, Villas-Boas did not completely commit to taking the position.
Instead, he asked Abramovich to agree the terms of his release from Porto - the Portuguese treble winners are insisting Villas-Boas will only be released if a €15m (Dh78.8m) buyout clause is paid in full, though Abramovich is attempting to negotiate a reduced fee.
While he will only inform Chelsea of his decision once terms are concluded between the two clubs, sources close to Villas-Boas say he will take the job. Hiddink is expected to take up his preferred position of sporting director.
Villas-Boas, 33, has been aware of Chelsea's interest in him for several months and can expect to at least treble his Euros1.2m net salary, yet has consistently distanced himself from the job both publicly and privately.
Having worked as Jose Mourinho's tactical scout from 2004 until 2007, he is painfully familiar with the myriad complications of Stamford Bridge and Abramovich's penchant for interference and ill-advised decision making.
An ambitious and focused individual, confident of his ability to win titles in Europe's elite league and lift the European Cup, Villas-Boas has told friends he is aware of the risks of returning to Chelsea.
The safer strategy would be to remain at Porto with the aim of retaining the domestic title and pushing deep into the Champions League, a competition he has not previously coached in.
While Villas-Boas' abilities were evident in guiding an unbeaten Porto to the Portuguese League with a record points total, he remains unusually inexperienced as a coach. Scouting duties limited his training-ground involvement under Mourinho at Porto, Chelsea and Internazionale, and he has less than two full seasons as a manager - his first appointment being at Academica in October 2009.
Porto's supporters reacted angrily to news that Villas-Boas might leave the club, with the hard-core 'Super Dragoes' grouping organising a protest outside the coach's house. Were he to elect to remain in Portugal, Chelsea's approach would further strengthen Villas-Boas' position at the Estadio do Dragao, potentially helping him to retain the services of key players such as Falcao and Hulk for his debut Champions League campaign.
Yesterday Porto told the Portuguese stock market, the CMVM, that their coach's buyout clause had yet to be exercised. "FC Porto, at the request of the CMVM, hereby informs the market that the coach Andre Villas Boas, as well as several players, has a termination clause," the statement read. "To date, we has not received any communication that this clause will be exercised, nor that the coach agrees to such an aim."
Meanwhile Adel Taarabt, the Queen's Park Rangers winger, yesterday claimed both Chelsea and Arsenal have been in contact over a potential summer transfer - although the Moroccan admitted remaining at Loftus Road next season is also an option.
Taarabt was instrumental in helping QPR seal the Championship title this season ensuring theirreturn to England's top tier after a 15-year absence.
His performances did not go unnoticed, with the former Tottenham Hotspur player telling L'Equipe that both London clubs have made contact regarding a transfer.
"QPR will demand £10 million [Dh59.5m] for me, and for now, the clubs do not move too much," he said. "I had contact with Arsenal and Chelsea, but it is a little muddled [difficult]. Arsenal have not yet sold [Cesc] Fabregas, and as for Chelsea, they do not yet have a coach, so we will see."
However, the African revealed helping Neil Warnock's men battle to retain their place among England's elite is also appealing.
He said: "I would like to stay in London - it is the best city in the world, and with Queens Park Rangers? Why not?
"When I talked with the coach, he told me the club would aim to be in the top eight."
* With agencies