Belfast Telegraph

Chelsea primed to secure Hiddink

By Sam Wallace

Guus Hiddink's coronation as the new Chelsea manager edged closer to completion yesterday as it became clear that his current employers, the Turkish football federation (TFF), were looking at ways that the Dutch coach could be moved on while realising the maximum value in compensation.

Following Friday's 1-1 draw with Belgium in their Euro 2012 qualifier in Brussels, there has been a gradual acceptance that Hiddink, 64, will have to leave but that has not changed the TFF's insistence, since Chelsea's interest became known, on £4m compensation.

The club are reluctant to pay that money but will open talks this week.

The TFF have made it clear that they will not accept any less than the wages on the last year of his contract and they hope that eventually Chelsea's need will be the greater, with the imperative for a manager in place this month ahead of the club's Far East tour next month.

The TFF also point to the fact that in the past Chelsea have had no fear of paying compensation for the likes of Jose Mourinho, Luiz Felipe Scolari and Carlo Ancelotti.

Yesterday the BBC quoted unnamed sources at the TFF who said that Hiddink's prime reason for leaving Turkey was the impending departure of the federation's president, Mahmut Ozgener, who is not thought to be standing for re-election on 25 June.

However, there is little question that Hiddink would have walked away from his £4m a year job over the TFF presidency were it not for the interest of Chelsea.

There is a general election in Turkey on Sunday which current prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling AK party are expected to win.

Unofficially, the prime minister takes a close interest in his country's football governing body.

The TFF presidential candidates are awaiting the outcome of this weekend's election to find out which of them is backed by the country's prime minister.

Although the TFF election is ostensibly a democratic vote, it is accepted privately that the winner must have the prime minister's endorsement.

It would be unlikely — although not impossible — that Hiddink would be allowed to leave his post as coach of the Turkey national team before this Sunday's elections.

The TFF spokesman said yesterday that both Ozgener and Hiddink were away on holiday this week and that nothing would happen before the weekend.

In Turkey there is already debate about who will succeed Hiddink as national team coach.

One of the favourites is the 61-year-old coach Mustafa Denizli, who was in charge of Turkey when they reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2000.

Hiddink's agent Cees van Nieuwenhuizen insists his client is still focused on leading Turkey to Euro 2012 despite last weekend's disappointing draw, which left the team eight points behind Group A leaders Germany and one behind the Belgians.

The Turkish media reacted angrily to Hiddink's refusal to commit his future to the TFF this weekend.

‘Good riddance’ and ‘Goodbye Hiddink’ were two negative headlines aimed at the former Real Madrid boss following the draw against Belgium, but Van Nieuwenhuizen remains adamant his client is still happy in his current position. “He is very happy with the draw in Brussels because he is still in the race for the European Championships,” Van Nieuwenhuizen said.

“Nothing has changed. I have said it before, Guus is under contract with Turkey.

“He has an obligation there until his contract is up in June next year. We have been saying that for weeks. Everyone is making their own stories about his future, but this is the reality.”

The former Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti distanced himself yesterday from the vacant managerial jobs at Aston Villa, Fulham and Roma, saying instead that he may well take a year out from the game.

“I am in no hurry to coach and I don't need to,” he said. “I have not been contacted by any club in England and I have not spoken to Roma. It is all fantasy. I have enjoyed this experience [working in England]. I will return to London to organise my life. Besides a six-month break, I have been coaching non-stop since 1995.

“I will take a year off and study how my colleagues work.

“I have always said, and I reiterate it, that one day I will coach Roma, but it's still early.”

The former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez, a Champions League winner, remains the favourite to succeed Gerard Houllier at Villa while others considered are Roberto Martinez, of Wigan Athletic, and Bolton's Owen Coyle.

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