Jose Mourinho appeared to flip speculation that he is destined for Chelsea on its head today by telling reporters that he had “considered staying on” at Real Madrid.
It has appeared for some time that Mourinho will leave the Bernabeu this summer, bringing an end to three seasons at the helm. During that time he has won the league and domestic cup but has failed to progress beyond the semi-final stage of the Champions League.
With Mourinho doing little to play down talk of a move to Chelsea, who will be managerless come the end of the current campaign, his comments today may come as a surprise.
Even more so considering Mourinho's comments after Real's exit from Europe at the hands of Borussia Dortmund that “there are clubs in England that love me; especially one”, with the 'one' widely understood to be the Blues.
However, in a press conference ahead of tomorrow's Primera Division clash with Malaga, the Portuguese was again coy on his future - and even suggested he has not ruled out remaining in the Spanish capital.
He said: "I have considered staying on."
Reports in Spain had accused Mourinho of involving himself in public spats with key players in a bid to force the board to sack him and hand him a pay-off.
However, he denied those claims, saying: "I will only earn money until the last day I work here. I don't want a single euro more."
Mourinho's criticism of Casillas led to centre-back Pepe speaking out against the coach after Madrid's 4-3 win over Real Valladolid at the Bernabeu on Saturday.
"The boss' comments weren't appropriate. Iker is a legend, both at this club and in Spain, and he deserves more respect," the defender said.
Mourinho's response today was to accuse his fellow countryman of sour grapes after losing his place in the side to 19-year-old Raphael Varane.
"It's very easy to analyse what Pepe said. His problem has a name - it is Raphael Varane," the coach said.
"We are talking about frustration. It's never easy for a 31-year-old to be rolled over by a boy of 19 years of age.
"I had the courage to play him (Varane), because I believe that he is the future of Real Madrid, along with Sergio Ramos. The problem is very simple - Pepe's life has changed."
He also defended his decision to make Lopez his number one ahead of Casillas.
"I like Diego Lopez more as a goalkeeper than Casillas. It's simple - it's not a personal decision. I like a goalkeeper who can play well with his feet, who is good in the air and who is a phenomenon between the posts.
"I like a different profile of goalkeeper, in the same way that Casillas might say he prefers a coach in the style of (Spain coach Vicente) Del Bosque.
"While I am the coach of Real Madrid, Diego Lopez will play, in normal circumstances. It's simple.
"I accept that people may say I know nothing about football because of that decision, but I say respect a coach who decides to play Diego Lopez. I'm the coach. It is my decision."