Belfast Telegraph

Andre Villas-Boas linked with Inter as rumours fly over Chelsea future

By Sam Wallace

Andre Villas-Boas's former president at Porto, Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa, added to the sense of insecurity around the Chelsea manager yesterday when he said that Internazionale would be interested in the young coach if he was finally forced out of Stamford Bridge.

There are no immediate plans to remove Villas-Boas from his role at Chelsea but, as ever at the club, it is a fluid situation and there is always the potential for change from one result to the next. The claim from Pinto da Costa, who insisted on Chelsea paying the £15m escape clause in Villas-Boas's contract last summer, suggests that the issue of the manager's future is being discussed in the higher echelons of European football.



Pinto da Costa said in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport yesterday that he could envisage a situation where Villas-Boas once again followed in Jose Mourinho's footsteps and joined Inter if he was sacked by Chelsea. Pinto da Costa also said Mourinho was in contact with his former players at the club by text message and this had made it more difficult for the young manager.



Fabio Capello's proposed move to take over at Anzhi Makhachkala, the extravagant-spending Russian league club from Dagestan, has not yet gone through and there are suggestions he may be waiting to see how the situation pans out at Chelsea. Capello would come with the added benefit of Chelsea being able to appoint him without the obligation of compensation payments.



While Chelsea's owner, Roman Abramovich, was at the training ground last week, his mood was understood to be very different to that of three years ago when he sacked Luiz Felipe Scolari in February. Still, Chelsea have won just one of their last five games in all competitions and cannot afford to slip up at home to Birmingham City in the FA Cup on Saturday, much less in their two-legged Champions League tie with Napoli.



Pinto da Costa said that Villas-Boas had found Chelsea's offer last summer impossible to turn down. "The other thing that weighed heavily was the difficulties he had in emulating Mourinho's Champions League victory [with Porto] in 2004," he said. "He left thinking that Chelsea was a unique opportunity, but I believe that was a mistake because there would have been others."



"He's doing well, he qualified for the Champions League last 16 and he's in all the competitions. He needs time to build his own team and he can't do that as long as there are players, people say, who send text messages to Mourinho. And Abramovich knows this.



"Mourinho will stay at Real Madrid next season. The only thing that will mean the end for Villas-Boas is if he doesn't qualify for the Champions League. If he leaves Chelsea, he'll be the next coach of Inter."



At the team meeting on Sunday, Villas-Boas was subject to outspoken opinions from some of his players during a clear-the-air session. However, it is understood that this was not the first time that players have spoken openly about their misgivings since Villas-Boas took over in the summer and that, by and large, the manager encourages it.

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