Mourinho tells Porto he will leave after final

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The Independent Football

Jose Mourinho has told Porto that he expects to leave after the Champions' League final on 26 May because of the "strong incentives" he is being offered elsewhere. The hugely ambitious 41-year-old coach also refused to deny that he was joining Chelsea - although sources in Portugal indicated yesterday that he is not yet convinced that a move to Stamford Bridge would be his wisest option.

Jose Mourinho has told Porto that he expects to leave after the Champions' League final on 26 May because of the "strong incentives" he is being offered elsewhere. The hugely ambitious 41-year-old coach also refused to deny that he was joining Chelsea - although sources in Portugal indicated yesterday that he is not yet convinced that a move to Stamford Bridge would be his wisest option.

Mourinho - who held informal talks with Chelsea officials yesterday - is acutely aware of how much in demand he is and wants to hold on for the best offer. However, he has made it clear that he wants to work in England - he is a fluent English-speaker - and Chelsea's would be the most powerful offer even if he would probably prefer to go to Liverpool.

"Porto's president knows that at the moment I'm thinking only about Porto but he also knows there's a lot going on around me," Mourinho said yesterday. "If I leave Porto, I can't guarantee it will be England but if the alternative is Italy then England will be my choice. I can guarantee my future will not be in Spain." His comments came in an interview published in the Portugal sports daily O Jogo, the day after he attended the second leg of the Champions' League semi-final at Stamford Bridge.

"There are very strong incentives that could make me want to leave at the end of the season," Mourinho said, although he refused to be drawn specifically on Chelsea. "The English press say so many things that it's not worth getting into denying them. From interviews that I've not given to headlines with words I've never said, I've read a bit of everything. Let's just let the water run."

Mourinho pulled out of a meeting two weeks ago with the Chelsea chief executive, Peter Kenyon, and the owner, Roman Abramovich, in his hometown of Setubal. However, that has only made his pursuers keener - partly because, after failing to land Sven Goran Eriksson, they really did not have a credible plan B. A shortlist was in place - with names such as Fabio Capello and Arsène Wenger on it - but it was always fanciful. It is thought now that the Chelsea hierarchy are attracted by the idea of a younger, more dynamic coach.

Although Mourinho was in London, talks did not take place. He will listen to Chelsea's offer later this month. The Porto manager may be remaining reasonably tight-lipped, but the agent of one of his prospective players, Adrian Mutu, was insistent yesterday. Andrea Pretti said that the Romanian Mutu - who has fallen out of favour at Stamford Bridge - was concerned over his future adding: "Even stones know Mourinho will be the new coach. Mutu wants to speak to Mourinho."

He is an interesting character. Mourinho did not enjoy the most distinguished of playing careers. His fortunes rose when he was employed as a translator for Sir Bobby Robson when he was coach at Sporting Lisbon during the 1993-94 season. Robson was impressed. "Jose was a very good student of soccer, very intelligent, ambitious, enthusiastic and curious," he said. Mourinho followed Robson to Porto and then on to Barcelona, where he stayed alongside Louis van Gaal after Robson left. After spells at Benfica and Uniao Leiria he returned to Porto as head coach.

Mourinho - a qualified PE teacher with a degree in psychology - has a reputation as a shrewd tactician and motivator. Porto won the domestic double last season, as well as the Uefa Cup. In the final of that competition - against Celtic - his players were accused of play-acting. They are also not adverse to some strong-arm tactics. Nine went into the semi-final against Deportivo La Coruña on a yellow card. Mourinho has, it is said, a will of iron - and an eye for the theatrical having also brought Sir Alex Ferguson out in an angry rash earlier this season.

Nevertheless, Porto are again on the verge of an astonishing treble. The league is already won, the cup is within their grasp. And the European Cup beckons, too. He is a team man who demands total control, something that may, of course, ultimately counsel against a move to Chelsea. It could come down to whether his ambition overrides his instinct.

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