Andre Villas-Boas has said Jose Mourinho will have a spectacular impact on the Premier League if he completes his return this summer.
The Tottenham Hotspur manager worked under his Portuguese compatriot at Porto, Chelsea – where they guided the club to their first league title in 50 years – and Internazionale but their relationship has been frosty since Villas-Boas went his own way.
But Villas-Boas, responding to the Real Madrid coach's public flirting with a Chelsea return, said: "He would have a tremendous impact. I am pretty sure the decision has already been taken. It seems that he is happy to return to England and Chelsea are one of the clubs looking for a manager. It seems very, very likely he will end up there. It will be spectacular to have him back."
The prospect of the pair going head-to-head next season is intriguing but Villas-Boas has a more immediate interest in events at Chelsea, who sacked him last year. He takes Spurs to Stamford Bridge next week and if they beat Southampton at home tomorrow, then Chelsea lose at Manchester United on Sunday, only goal difference will separate the two clubs in the fight for a Champions League place.
When asked whether United manager Sir Alex Ferguson will play a strong side, Villas-Boas said: "He's an extremely competitive manager so I have no doubts about what he does. We saw an example of that against Arsenal and I don't think Man United will do anything differently against Chelsea, particularly after being knocked out of the FA Cup by them. Players who win titles want to win every single game so I expect Chelsea to have a very, very difficult game."
In terms of Tottenham's prospects, Villas-Boas remains calm, not least because of the presence in his squad of Gareth Bale, who was named Player of the Year by the country's football writers.
"I've had the privilege of working with a couple of great players and Gareth certainly joins those ones I've worked with as the best," said the Portuguese. "He [also] has the advantage of age for his further development."
Villas-Boas was confident about keeping Bale, even if Spurs do not finish in the top four. "The information I have from the club," he said, "is the player is here to remain, independent of the objectives of Champions League qualification."