Chelsea are on the verge of appointing Porto coach Andre Villas-Boas, who is just 33, as their new manager.
The Portuguese has just one full season of management under his belt and is likely to bring with him 25-year-old striker Radamel Falcao, who will cost the London club £26m.
Having dispensed with an experienced manager in Carlo Ancelotti, it is a change of approach for Chelsea, who are going to the other extreme. Villas-Boas' one season could not have been better -- an incredible debut year with Porto, who went through the league season unbeaten, won a domestic double and also the Europa League and boasted a win percentage of a mighty 84pc.
However, Villas-Boas' lack of experience -- his only other managerial job was eight months in charge at Academica de Coimbre -- makes him a huge gamble for Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.
The Russian is believed to be the driving force behind appointing Jose Mourinho's protege as Chelsea's sixth manager in four years. It is understood he is ready to meet the £13.2m buy-out clause in Villas-Boas' Porto contract, although Chelsea are trying to pay less. Villas-Boas yesterday informed Porto of his intention to leave and was last night waiting for the deal to be completed.
The Portuguese coach, who wrote detailed dossiers on the opposition for Mourinho at Chelsea from 2003 to '07, has been offered £5m a year on a three-year deal to take over at Stamford Bridge and replace Ancelotti, who was sacked on the final day of last season.
Should Abramovich be successful in enticing Villas-Boas away from Porto, it will take the Russian's total spending in compensation to former clubs and sacked managers to £62m.
Porto yesterday issued a statement to the Portuguese stock exchange that they had not received the £13.2m required to release their manager from his contract. However, it is likely a deal will be reached by the end of the week. A Chelsea spokesman said: "We hope to be able to make an announcement regarding the new manager in the next few days or so."
Chelsea had been attempting to tie up a deal to release Guus Hiddink from his contract as manager of Turkey, but in recent weeks Abramovich has gradually changed his mind in favour of the youthful approach of Villas-Boas.
Hiddink is understood to have been reluctant to take on the day-to-day responsibility of managing and coaching the first team full-time at the age of 64.
He wanted to appoint several coaches, allowing him to spend time in the Netherlands, which set off alarm bells within the Chelsea board and prompted a closer look at Villas-Boas. Chelsea were last night negotiating with Porto for the release of their manager, and may yet have to pay the full £13.2m compensation.
Porto president Pinta da Costa yesterday admitted he will be unable to prevent Villas-Boas from moving to England if his release fee is met.
He said: "Villas-Boas has a contract and a clause of €15m (£13.2m). If someone deposits €15m into our account and he wants to go, we cannot do anything."
Sources in Portugal last night claimed Villas-Boas has been told Chelsea will make funds available for him to take the prolific Falcao with him. The 25-year-old striker, who set a new goalscoring record of 17 goals in 14 games during the Europa League campaign, has a buy-out clause in his contract of £26m.
It seems remarkable that Chelsea would spend more money again on a striker, just six months after paying out £50m to take Fernando Torres from Liverpool. However, anything is possible with Chelsea, who last week saw a £22m bid for Tottenham playmaker Luka Modric turned down and described as "ridiculous" by their London rivals.
Hiddink could yet return to Chelsea in a football director role but only once he has completed Turkey's Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.
Villas-Boas, who at 33 is the same age as Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba, has become the most talked-about young coach in world football, despite having only worked for 20 months at two Portuguese clubs.
Porto are said to be furious at the prospect of his leaving, having already brought in four new players -- Djalma, Iturbe, Kelvin and Rafael Bracalli -- that Villas-Boas wanted. Club president Da Costa is also said to be disgruntled at the timing of Chelsea's approach, because the man he would have wanted to replace Villas-Boas, the former Beira-Mar manager Leonardo Jardim, has just been snapped up by rivals Braga.
During his brief reign, Villas-Boas has been keen to differentiate himself from Mourinho, saying: "We have different personalities and views towards the game. I respect Jose, but don't want to be a Mourinho clone. I want to be able to work freely, without restraint, without worrying what he thinks."
A key difference is that Villas-Boas places a greater emphasis on attacking football. His Porto team scored 73 goals in 30 league games last season, and fired in 37 goals on their way to winning the Europa League.
However, like Mourinho, he has courted controversy in the past, clashing with Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher and former Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard during his time working under Mourinho at Stamford Bridge. (© Independent News Service)