Liverpool set to hold talks with Villas-Boas
Liverpool will step up their pursuit of a new manager by holding talks with former Chelsea coach Andre Villas-Boas next week.
After two high-profile candidates publicly removed themselves from the current recruitment process, Villas-Boas and Wigan manager Roberto Martinez now look likely to go head-to-head to replace Kenny Dalglish.
Earlier, Borussia Dortmund's Jurgen Klopp and Swansea's Brendan Rodgers said they would be remaining at their respective clubs rather than accept any invitations to meet the Anfield hierarchy.
Rodgers, however, may yet come back into the reckoning if an initial round of interviews does not lead to an appointment.
Associates of former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez have also approached the club to request an interview with the American owners, Fenway Sports Group. Liverpool insist there is no prospect of Benitez returning.
Klopp, a two-time Bundesliga winner and one of the most sought-after, progressive coaches in Europe, rejected Liverpool's interest because he is intent on competing in next year's Champions League as part of an exciting new era for his club.
"I have been made aware of interest from England, and it is an honour to be linked with big clubs in the Premier League," said Klopp. "But I have a contract with Dortmund until 2016 and am going nowhere."
Rodgers has pulled out of contention for the moment after it emerged Liverpool intended to interview numerous candidates.
A Swansea statement read: "The club is pleased to confirm that Brendan has declined the current opportunity to speak to the Anfield club about the vacant position."
The key phrase in that statement, however, was "current opportunity". That left the door open for a rethink later on. Villas-Boas' chances have been enhanced and discussions with his representatives began yesterday.
The Portuguese coach has keenly studied the history of the club during his formative years as a coach, and although scarred by his turbulent period at Chelsea, in many ways he seems an ideal fit for the philosophy Fenway Sports Group wish to introduce.
Elsewhere, Barcelona's pursuit of Gareth Bale has moved into a new phase after 'El Mundo Deportivo,' the Catalan newspaper closest to the club, reported yesterday Tottenham Hotspur had quoted a £36m fee for the Welsh winger.
Spurs declined to comment on the report, but Bale, who is under contract at White Hart Lane until 2015, is widely understood not to be for sale. (© Daily Telegraph, London)