Deschamps claims to be one of four on Chelsea shortlist

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The Independent Football

Avram Grant has returned to Israel after being sacked as Chelsea manager, with the former Juventus coach Didier Deschamps claiming yesterday that he had received an approach to take over at Stamford Bridge. Such a claim can, at this stage, be treated with scepticism with Deschamps desperate to return to management after losing his job to Claudio Ranieri last year. He was keen on the Newcastle United post, after Sam Allardyce was sacked, and, as a former Chelsea player, hopes to be considered.

"Three or four managers are on the list, I am part of them," Deschamps claimed on the French radio station RMC. "It would be hard to refuse Chelsea. They are a very big club that I know. We will see in the next few days how it goes.

"We speak about [Marcelo] Lippi as well but he does not speak English. All the famous managers who are free can interest them [Chelsea]. We cannot forget that they sacked a manager not because of results but because they want to play a spectacular football, attacking, something different than in the last few years. Abramovich and his directors decide, not the players."

Deschamps' chances of gaining the job are slim although, ironically, he would probably have been appointed had his Monaco side beaten Jose Mourinho's Porto in the 2004 Champions League final. Instead they lost 3-0 and Mourinho got the Chelsea job, replacing Ranieri. Since then Deschamps' appeal has declined.

Predictably enough agents and associates close to several of the outstanding candidates distanced their clients from the job yesterday with Guus Hiddink's agent Cees van Nieuwenhuizen reiterating his claim that the 61-year-old will continue as Russia coach after this summer's European Championships.

Similarly Maurizio de Giorgis, one of Roberto Mancini's agents, claimed his client wanted to stay at Internazionale. Discussions were taking place yesterday at Inter over Mancini's future and despite the denials there has been contact with Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon with the understanding that it was initiated by the Italian, who is fighting for his future, but not reciprocated.

Kenyon is, however, believed to be pushing the case of Mark Hughes and the Blackburn Rovers' manager – along with Hiddink and Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari – is a strong contender. Privately Scolari has told friends he would be very keen to join Chelsea and he fits the profile of the kind of coach owner Roman Abramovich is looking for.

It appears certain that Chelsea have not held any meaningful discussions, as yet, with possible candidates which also include Frank Rijkaard.

Grant arrived back in Tel Aviv on Sunday evening. He said: "I had a great experience during the past year and two years as a whole [in England] and I very much want to thank all the people in Israel. I felt that I travelled together with all the Israelis who were with me and the thousands who were at the stadiums. Now I need to go to my family."

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