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Chelsea close in on Hiddink deal

Guus Hiddink
Hiddink was manager of PSV Eindhoven and Australia in 2005

Chelsea hope to appoint Russia boss Guus Hiddink as their new manager until the end of the season, and are keen to finalise a deal before Saturday.

The Russian Football Association gave Chelsea permission to talk to the Dutchman on Tuesday on the basis that Hiddink could combine both roles.

And Hiddink has hinted that a temporary move to Stamford Bridge would suit him.

"If it was any other club my answer would be a straight 'no', but Chelsea is different," said the 62-year-old.

"I have good relations with the owner Roman Abramovich. I would like to help them if I could.

"This would only be for the next two or three months until the end of the season. I will not leave my job with the Russian national team. It's out of the question.

"When I took the Russia job it was a long-term project and I don't like to leave it unfinished," added Hiddink, who is contracted until the end of the 2010 World Cup.

Russia have two World Cup qualifiers over the course of the rest of the Premier League season - at home to Azerbaijan on 28 March and away to Liechtenstein four days later.

Hiddink has the extensive club and international experience Abramovich is searching for, having coached PSV Eindhoven and Real Madrid as well as the Netherlands, South Korea and Australia.

And the Dutchman insists that once again juggling both club and international commitments would not be a problem.

"I have already done that a couple of years ago when I was coaching Australia and PSV, so I'm familiar with the situation and what it takes," said Hiddink, who is in Turkey for a training camp with the Russia squad.

Billionaire Abramovich, who agreed a compensation package with Scolari and his backroom staff on Tuesday evening, was instrumental in Hiddink's appointment as Russia manager in 2006, and the pair have since maintained close ties.

And it seems that the opportunity to bring the Dutchman to Chelsea has now fallen at the right time for all parties, as Hiddink's contract does not prevent him from undertaking two jobs.

"In his contract there isn't any point on which he can't combine two posts, so he can do it. But right now the ball is in Chelsea's court because they must make him some offer. We think that he can do it but now it's his decision," a Football Union of Russia (FUR) spokesman told the BBC.

Earlier, Chelsea confirmed that they had been given permission to talk with Hiddink about taking over from Scolari, adding their "thanks to the FUR" for the co-operation.

Guus will only do it to the end of the season. Then at that time he will introduce probably Frank Rijkaard to take over from him in the summer

Dutch journalist Rob Fleur
The Blues travel to Championship strugglers Watford in the FA Cup fifth round on Saturday, and plan for Hiddink to be in place in time for the game - though current first-team coach Ray Wilkins will be in charge if a deal has not been finalised.

Hiddink warned talks were still at a formative stage when asked if he could combine both high-profile jobs, telling Russian newspaper Sport Express: "You correctly use the word 'if'.

"I can't rule out that option but it is at the stage of being examined. If everything is organised properly, a move to London could happen. I'll be able to give you a final answer in a few days."

Hiddink's appointment would cap a momentous few days for the Blues, who sacked Scolari after just seven months in charge, on Monday.

However, Dutch journalist Rob Fleur warned there will definitely be more upheaval in the summer, telling BBC Radio 5 Live: "Guus will only do it to the end of the season.

He knows exactly what's going on in the dressing room

Artur Numan on Hiddink
"Then at that time he will introduce probably Frank Rijkaard to take over from him in the summer."

Until then, though, former Rangers star Artur Numan, who played under Hiddink for the Netherlands, told BBC Radio 5 Live the Russia coach's man-management could re-unite the Chelsea dressing room.

"He knows exactly what's going on in the dressing room," said Numan. "That's his big quality and why he has been so successful in all the different countries he has worked."

Former Barcelona coach Rijkaard, Italians Roberto Mancini, Gianfranco Zola, Roberto di Matteo and Carlo Ancelotti, along with ex-Chelsea boss Avram Grant, had all been touted as possible successors.

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see also
Tuesday's gossip column
10 Feb 09 |  Gossip
Terry 'shocked' at Scolari exit
10 Feb 09 |  Chelsea
Reaction to Scolari sacking
09 Feb 09 |  Football

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