LONDON // Guus Hiddink will decide next month whether to take a direct role in the management of Chelsea.
The Dutchman, who has worked for Roman Abramovich in some capacity for five years, has been asked to replace Carlo Ancelotti at the London club but is far more likely to accept a position as director of football.
Critical in Hiddink's decision-making process is the outcome of Turkey's European Championship qualifier in Belgium on June 3.
Hiddink's position as Turkey's coach has been under scrutiny since they lost a qualifying match with Azerbaijan last October, and a another defeat would leave Turkey dependent on results elsewhere to reach Euro 2012.
It is a point of principle for Hiddink, 64, that he has never walked out on a contract in almost three decades as a professional coach, and he has told Chelsea's owner he will not quit the Turkey job for Stamford Bridge.
An exit by mutual consent, however, would allow him to oversee a comprehensive overhaul of the club's football department.
Hiddink has also been offered a position on Ajax's board by Johan Cruyff and has a home in Amsterdam, but he is understood to be more interested in a return to Chelsea, where he won the FA Cup as caretaker manager in 2009.
Since then, Hiddink has worked as an informal adviser on Chelsea strategy to Abramovich, who also subsidised his salary as the Russia coach from 2006 to 2010.
According to friends, Hiddink has been contemplating a return to Chelsea since the turn of the year, but is highly sceptical about coaching a Premier League team full-time, having found his four-month spell in 2009 physically and mentally demanding.
Instead, Hiddink is expected to turn to either Marco van Basten or Frank Rijkaard to handle coaching duties, both of whom he has strong relationships with.
"Guus is focusing on his job and he likes what he is doing," Hiddink's lawyer Cees van Nieuwenhuizen said yesterday. "He said also in his column on Saturday in [Dutch newspaper] De Telegraaf that as long as he is in the race for the European Championship with Turkey, he would continue to focus on that.
"Once that is finished, he will start thinking about his future. Abramovich has been considering options to replace Ancelotti for most of a season that ended without trophies, and with the Italian's formal dismissal.
Besotted with Barcelona's positive football and image, the Russian approached Pep Guardiola about exchanging the Camp Nou for west London this summer only for the Catalan to agree a contract extension with the Spanish champions.
Jose Mourinho, the most successful manager in Chelsea's history but fired by Abramovich in 2007, was also sounded out about returning to the club following a politically traumatic period at Real Madrid. Mourinho, though, has resolved to remain at the Bernabeu and wrest the Spanish title from Barcelona.
Mourinho has been granted unprecedented control over transfers - already signing three of his five principal targets for next season - and received unequivocal support in a legal challenge to a five-match Uefa suspension.
Chelsea have taken note of the achievements of 33-year-old Andre Villas-Boas in winning the Europa League and a Portuguese double in his first season managing Porto.
Formerly Mourinho's senior scout at Porto, Chelsea and Inter, Villas-Boas is expected to heed advice to remain in Portugal and gain the experience of coaching in the Champions League before taking on a more demanding job.
Despite winning a league and cup double in his first season as Chelsea manager, Ancelotti had been awaiting dismissal for long periods of this campaign.
Abramovich had told the Italian that he held him responsible for "ruining his football team", but did not dismiss him in person. That job was left to Ron Gourlay, the club's chief executive, shortly after Sunday's Premier League loss at Everton.
Though Ancelotti, 51, would prefer to remain in the English game, he also wants to coach a competitive Champions League club, limiting his options throughout Europe.
Roma are interested in bringing him back to Serie A but can offer only Europa League football.
Cushioned by compensation payments on the remaining year of his £3 million (Dh18m) contract, Ancelotti may take a sabbatical until better opportunities emerge.