Chelsea want Pellegrini as Benitez replacement.
Chelsea have opened talks with Malaga manager Manuel Pellegrini as they look for a full-time replacement for Rafael Benitez, the Sun claims.
The former Real Madrid boss has done great work with Malaga this season, guiding them to the Champions League quarter-finals in their first ever season in the competition, despite financial problems and being forced to sell key players, such as Santi Cazorla and Nacho Monreal to Arsenal.
The 59-year-old appears to be Roman Abramovich’s first choice for a long-term successor to current interim boss Benitez, who controversially replaced Roberto Di Matteo earlier in the season. The former Liverpool boss was immediately unpopular with the crowd at Stamford Bridge, and though it was never really suggested that he would get the job permanently, mixed results under his reign have not helped the Spaniard’s cause.
Pellegrini’s agent agent Jesus Martinez is aware of some interest in his client, and revealed that his contract can be bought out for £3.5million.
“We must speak with Malaga about many things,” Martinez said. “If we have contacts with Roma, Chelsea and Manchester City, Manuel has a contract until June 2014 and a price of £3.5m.”
That price shouldn’t deter Chelsea, who paid a record £13.3million compensation fee to Porto for Andre Villas-Boas last season, but according to ESPN, Pellegrini himself might be content to reject any potential suitors to stay with Malaga.
“I would like to finish my contract here and, when my career ends, to stay here and live in Malaga,” he told Spanish radio.
“I have an invaluable empathy with the people here, but for me the sporting project is important – and that has become distorted over time. My future is going to depend more on what Malaga do than on external offers.”
Should Chelsea fail to persuade Pellegrini to join, it is understood that Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp would be their next choice. It was Klopp’s Dortmund side that knocked Pellegrini and Malaga out of the Champions League this season after a thrilling tie.
Former boss Jose Mourinho has also made it clear he would take the Chelsea job and return to Stamford Bridge if given the offer, though the Portugese tactician had a somewhat frosty relationship with owner Ambramovich during his time at the club.