Roman Abramovich is understood to be intent on removing Carlo Ancelotti as Chelsea manager, even if the club retain the Premier League title this season.
According to well-placed sources, Abramovich is still hoping to persuade Guus Hiddink to replace Ancelotti this summer even though the 64-year-old has made it clear he does not intend to walk out as the coach of the Turkish national team.
"Let's wait and see what happens," one source said yesterday about Hiddink's prospects and it is believed that Abramovich may hold on to see how Turkey fare in their forthcoming Euro 2012 qualifier away to Belgium on June 3 -- two weeks after the end of the Premier League season.
Turkey are still hopeful of qualifying for the November play-offs, which would prohibit Hiddink's chances of taking the Chelsea job, but if they were to fail then the Dutchman may become immediately available. Even then, it would appear that Abramovich would still have a difficult job to persuade him to move back into club management.
However, it is understood that the Russian billionaire still believes he has a good chance of employing Hiddink, who he has always regarded as the ideal manager for the club and who enjoyed a brief but successful period as caretaker after Luiz Felipe Scolari was sacked.
The mood music would seem to suggest that the optimism surrounding Hiddink must be grounded in some form of encouragement. It could be that he moves to Chelsea as manager for a short time with a younger coach groomed to take over.
That has led to the possibility of Marco van Basten or even Gianfranco Zola being brought to Chelsea while the dynamic young Porto coach Andre Villas-Boas is also being monitored by Abramovich. Villas-Boas, whose side face Villareal in the semi-finals of the Europa League tomorrow, is likely to be a man in demand this summer.
Though he is believed to have told Porto he will stay, that resolve is likely to be tested. He previously worked at Chelsea as part of Jose Mourinho's coaching staff.
Ancelotti has one year left on his contract, but there is little prospect of the Italian seeing that out or of being offered an extension despite winning the league and FA Cup last season and turning around Chelsea's fortunes during this campaign.
Chelsea sit second in the table, six points behind Manchester United with four games to play including a trip to Old Trafford. However, it is the malaise that struck the team during the season -- little of which was Ancelotti's fault -- and, clearly, the Champions League exit to United that is likely to lead to his imminent departure.
Ancelotti has given the distinct impression that he expects to leave.
There also remains the prospect of Abramovich finding a role at the club for Avram Grant, who is manager of bottom-placed West Ham United. Chelsea are also in the process of recruiting a chief scout as part of a shake-up in the way the club is organised as part of Frank Arnesen's imminent departure as sporting director. (© Daily Telegraph, London)