CHELSEA could land Jose Mourinho on the cheap this summer and get the former Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso into the bargain if the Real Madrid coach goes back to Stamford Bridge.
The contract extension that Mourinho signed in May last year included a £20m buyout fee, but the clause is only payable if he leaves mid-season. Despite having three years left at the club, Real Madrid are prepared to negotiate a price much lower than his €10m salary, such is the desire on both sides to part ways in June.
Mourinho is understood to not have a problem working with Roman Abramovich's hierarchy, including technical director Michael Emenalo, and the move will not be blocked by Real, who are already preparing for life beyond him with Carlo Ancelotti – likely to cost nothing, having agreed to terminate his €7m-a-year rolling contract with Paris Saint-Germain.
Alonso (31) is out of contract at the end of the 2013-14 season and has still not responded to Real's offer of a two-year extension. He has become one of Mourinho's biggest allies, while others have fallen out with him.
Delaying a decision is linked to waiting to see whether his manager remains in charge.
Mourinho's career has been marked by the close relationships he has formed with his players but, at Real, that has not happened. Alonso has been the exception in the dressing-room, causing friction with team-mates who have covertly lobbied for Mourinho's removal.
Another Alonso option is to hold out until the end of the 2014 season when he will be in a position to cut his own deal away from Madrid.
However, the club would prefer to get a fee and, though Alonso is expected to finish his career at his first club, Real Sociedad, where he played before he signed for Liverpool, he has indicated to friends at the Basque club that he wants one more foreign adventure.
Having targeted Ancelotti, Real Madrid are also planning to fast-track Zinedine Zidane through their coaching ranks as they look to fill the void left by Mourinho.
Radamel Falcao would be Mourinho's marquee signing at the Blues. The Colombian striker will leave Atletico Madrid in the summer and is represented by Mourinho's agent Jorge Mendes.
But another Mendes client – Cristiano Ronaldo – put good distance between his own and Mourinho's future. Asked about his manager's future, he said: "It is not important to me. What matters to me is my future and Real Madrid's." (© Independent News Service)