Chelsea close on Villas-Boas after paying Porto £13m
Manager's appointment expected today as Abramovich triggers buyout clause
The Porto president Jorge Pinto da Costa confirmed last night that Chelsea had paid the £13.2m release clause in Andre Villas-Boas's contract, making him the most expensive managerial signing in English football history.
An announcement from Chelsea that they have appointed Villas-Boas is expected today, although last night the club were still refusing even to admit officially that it was them who had paid the buyout clause in the 33-year-old's contract.
In a club statement released at 7.15pm last night, Chelsea said: "We note that the release clause of Andre Villas-Boas has been activated. We can at this time confirm our interest in him and hope to reach agreement with him on personal terms and make a further announcement in the near future."
Pinto da Costa later admitted – at a press conference to introduce Villas-Boas's successor – that Chelsea had paid the £13.2m themselves. However, the wording used by Chelsea prompted suggestions that the payment of the buyout clause may have implications for their status under the Uefa financial fair play regulations.
After Villas-Boas announced his resignation earlier yesterday it was a case of Chelsea waiting for Porto to confirm to the Portuguese securities market commission that they had received the compensation outlined in his contract which would trigger its termination. When Porto finally did so they also announced they had appointed Villas-Boas's assistant, Vitor Pereira, as his successor.
Villas-Boas is expected to be given a three-year contract at Chelsea that will earn him around £4.5m a year. Last night, Pinto da Costa warned that Villas-Boas would not be able to raid his former club for players without paying the buyout clauses written into their contacts.
As well as Porto's Colombian striker Radamel Falcao, valued at £26m, being a potential transfer target for Chelsea, there were suggestions last night that Villas-Boas wanted to sign the Portugal international Joao Moutinho. The 24-year-old, whom he signed from Sporting Lisbon one year ago, has a £35m buyout clause.
Certainly Moutinho, a diminutive midfielder, would fit the bill for a player who can dictate play in central midfield. With it unlikely that Chelsea can persuade Tottenham to part with Luka Modric, Moutinho would be a more realistic alternative.
Villas-Boas, a former Chelsea scout, is expected to bring with him from Porto another assistant, Jose Mario Rocha, and the opposition scout Daniel Sousa, although details of his backroom staff are yet to be finalised. He will join the club at the start of July and will spend a few days with the players before being introduced to the media around 7 July.
Having hoped yesterday that they might be able to negotiate with Pinto da Costa on the question of compensation, it was made clear to Chelsea that they had no option but to pay the full amount. Police were called to Villas-Boas's house in Porto to control fans demonstrating against his departure but the man himself was still on holiday in the Seychelles.
Rocha was described by one seasoned Porto expert as Villas-Boas's "right-hand man" although not a day-to-day coach. The two first worked together during Villas-Boas's 23 matches in charge at Academica in his first season as a manager in 2009-2010.
There was a reminder from Pereira last night that Porto's success last season was not just the work of one man. Pereira said: "The winner was not just Andre. Porto provided the structure and there was a great exchange of ideas between us. He tapped my experience and I tapped his."
It caps a remarkable few days in the Roman Abramovich regime with Guus Hiddink eventually overlooked for a job that he appeared certain to get following the sacking of Carlo Ancelotti on the last day of the season. The 64-year-old Dutch coach is now being linked to the vacant Internazionale job.
Pinto da Costa said last night that Pereira, a member of Villas-Boas's backroom staff, was a "natural successor". However, Porto have still been caught out by the speed at which events have moved over the last few days since they were told by Villas-Boas over the weekend that he was determined to leave.
Pinto da Costa said: "What happened [with Villas-Boas] is part of life and football. We admit that. For some time we had the assurance of Victor Pereira that if this happened, he would take the job on. Villas-Boas had great merit and I pay tribute to his work. If you put a clause in [a contract] then it can be exercised. It was part of the contract signed freely. I think he has the ability to succeed at any club and I hope he has great success."
In an earlier statement, Porto said:"FC Porto hereby informs the market they have received from Mr Andre Villas-Boas the amount provided for in clause to terminate his employment contract."
Reports in Portugal have suggested that the contingency deal to bring Villas-Boas on board was hatched at the start of May although there has been no indication from Chelsea that was the case. The club's board, including chief executive Ron Gourlay, have all played a part in the process to bring Villas-Boas to Chelsea although the main decision, as ever, was made by Abramovich.
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