Roman Abramovich's search for his 10th Chelsea manager in 10 years suffered a setback yesterday when Jurgen Klopp, one of Europe's best young coaches, pledged his future to Borussia Dortmund.
Klopp has led Dortmund to back-to-back Bundesliga titles and, as revealed last week by The Daily Telegraph, Chelsea were considering a fresh move for the manager in the wake of Pep Guardiola joining Bayern Munich.
"I have a contract until 2016," said Klopp. "I have said 20 times I'll definitely stay until 2016. Everybody thinks I say it but that if a club like Chelsea or Real Madrid come in for me, I will go. This is something I can't change but they will see.
"I enjoy what I'm doing here at Dortmund. It's a great club, a great city, everything is OK. It's not about the money for me. I have enough to eat three times a day. It's a big honour, but in this moment I'm not on the market, I'm sorry."
Klopp has thrived at Dortmund while working with considerable autonomy and there is doubt over how he would adapt to the structures at Chelsea. It is significant that Klopp, 45, is regarded in Germany as the natural successor to Joachim Low as the manager of the national team.
Michael Zorc, the Dortmund sporting director, has also promised that his club would not negotiate with Chelsea if there was any attempt to recruit Klopp. "It is not worth Chelsea ringing us," he said. "There is no chance at all, at least until 2016. Even if they offered compensation the answer would still be no. He's priceless. We are committed to each other - we gave our word."
Zorc also noted the instability at Chelsea. "I hope not to be in this situation at any time because it means you have made many wrong decisions in this period," he told the London Evening Standard. "I think you can only have success on a long-term basis if you don't have this important position changed like you do when you change your shirts."
Chelsea are understood to have taken soundings about Klopp's availability and whether he would want to be seriously considered as a successor to their interim manager Rafael Benitez. With Guardiola having rejected their advances, Chelsea's latest managerial search has already become restricted. David Moyes, the Everton manager, has become a leading candidate, as has Manuel Pellegrini, the coach of Malaga.
Jose Mourinho, the former Chelsea manager, remains an option although there is a growing sense that he is lobbying to become the next coach of Paris St-Germain should Carlo Ancelotti be removed from his post.
Ancelotti admitted that his future would depend upon results between now and the end of the season, with PSG six points clear in the French league and facing Valencia tonight in the last 16 of the Champions League. "I want to stay here, but I know that, at the end of the season, the club will decide whether they're happy or not with my work," said Ancelotti.
Ancelotti's contract expires at the end of the season but there is an option to extend it if PSG do again qualify for the Champions League. Chelsea's focus this week is the first leg of their Europa League fixture against Sparta Prague, with Benitez warning that the competition would need an adjustment in mentality.
"In terms of mentality the first thought is, 'hmm, it's different'," he said. "The most important thing is in the players' heads. I expect them to be focused and to concentrate, but we will need some time to talk about this. On the day before when we fly they will realise that it's Europe and they must give 100 per cent."