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Jose lowers his price

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Real Madrid's coach Jose Mourinho. Pictures: Reuters/Sergio Perez.

Real Madrid's coach Jose Mourinho. Pictures: Reuters/Sergio Perez.

Real Madrid's coach Jose Mourinho. Pictures: Reuters/Sergio Perez.

Jose Mourinho's contract demands have been rejected by Chelsea, but the Portuguese is so desperate to seal his move back to Stamford Bridge that he is prepared to lower his price.

Mourinho's representatives have re-opened dialogue with the Premier League club over the past few days in the hope that Roman Abramovich can finally be persuaded to take back the manager who left amid acrimony in September 2007, although no deal has yet been agreed.

As Chelsea's search for a manager to replace Rafael Benitez intensifies, so too have their attempts to revitalise their playing squad. It is believed Chelsea have made another move to sign Brazilian striker Neymar, with technical director Michael Emenalo having travelled to Brazil to watch him play.

Although there is a groundswell of support from within Chelsea for Mourinho to return, it is believed that Abramovich, the club's owner, has proved more reluctant as he did not enjoy the aggravation around the manager. He also gave Mourinho an £18million pay-off.

This time Mourinho is understood to have initially demanded a salary of £12m a year, a get-out if Chelsea fail to finish in the top four and, most crucially, control of transfers in the belief that the club would simply welcome him back. These demands were rejected.

There are two schools of thought around Mourinho's behaviour on Tuesday from those who know him. The first is that he spoke because he has now received a firm offer from Chelsea and felt emboldened to do so, and the second that it was a more desperate act.

One source said on Wednesday that he had not seen Mourinho behave like that before. "Him offering himself like that was strange," he said.

Mourinho will still have to fight to get the Chelsea job and sources last night were urging caution over claims that a deal had been finalised. However, it does appear Mourinho's chances have improved.

Two-and-a-half weeks ago, Chelsea met Manuel Pellegrini's agent in Paris to discuss a deal to take the 59-year-old Chilean from Malaga. At that time, Pellegrini was regarded as the favourite for the Chelsea job. Like Mourinho, his name has been on the club's shortlist for some time, along with Everton's David Moyes. Other candidates have also been considered.

Mould

Pellegrini's style of football and his manner fit the mould of the type of coach Chelsea want to employ – although there is a risk in that he has not worked outside Spain or South America and would be new to the Premier League. But he still cannot be discounted.

Chelsea have been pleased with the work of interim manager Benítez and that led to a discussion as to whether he could remain in charge next season. However, there does appear to be an acceptance that the strong opposition of the Chelsea supporters to the appointment cannot be ignored.

It would be remarkable if Mourinho did cede control of the club's transfer policy given this was one of the major causes of friction when he was previously at Chelsea. Mourinho had a running feud with the then sporting director Frank Arnesen and also complained bitterly about Andrei Shevchenko, who Abramovich was determined to sign, after he arrived and proved to be a flop.

A breaking point was the appointment of Avram Grant as director of football. Given Emenalo – brought in by Grant – is not under threat it would appear that Mourinho would have to work with him.

Mourinho could not have been clearer in his post-match comments on Tuesday evening after Real Madrid were knocked out of the Champions League, at the semi-final stage, losing on aggregate to Borussia Dortmund.

"I want to be where people love me to be," he said.

Loved

"I know in England I'm loved. I'm loved by the fans, I'm loved by the media that treats me in a fair way, criticising me but giving me credit when I deserve it. I know I'm loved by some clubs, especially one, and in Spain, the situation is a bit different because some people hate me."

Mourinho's agent, Jorge Mendes, has held talks with Paris St-Germain but that link is said to have cooled.

Chelsea have not allowed the uncertainty to stymie their summer transfer plans, a point underlined by Emenalo's trip to see Neymar.

Manchester City director of football Txiki Begiristain made a similar journey in December to gauge whether Santos could be persuaded to sell the striker now, rather than after next year's World Cup finals.

City are, however, close to agreeing a deal to sign Edinson Cavani from Napoli.


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