Wigan have been given permission to speak to Roberto Martinez about their managerial vacancy after a compensation deal was agreed with Swansea.
The Latics have turned to the Swans boss - who was also a reported target of Celtic - after previous incumbent Steve Bruce was yesterday confirmed as the new manager of Sunderland.
Martinez spent six years as a player at the Lancashire club until 2001, and has seen his stock soar since guiding Swansea to the verge of the Coca-Cola Championship play-offs, 12 months after winning the League One title.
Wigan owner Dave Whelan has made no secret of his admiration for the work done by Martinez at Liberty Stadium.
"He is my number one choice but I have not got permission to talk to him - I need permission from the Swansea chairman (Huw Jenkins) before I can even say hello to Roberto," Whelan said last night.
The 35-year-old Spaniard held talks with Jenkins last night when he was expected to voice his preference for the JJB Stadium over Parkhead.
Celtic made an approach for Martinez last week, but Whelan told Sky Sports News he was hopeful that an emotional attachment would take him back to the north-west.
"He was one of my 'Three Amigos' when I brought three lads in 10-12 years ago (the others were Jesus Seba and Isidro Diaz) and they revolutionised the football at Wigan," Whelan said.
"I have great hopes I can get Roberto Martinez back to Wigan but he's done so well for Swansea and if Swansea refuse permission I'll have to look elsewhere."
Jenkins insisted yesterday the two parties were "miles apart" in their valuation - but that chasm appears now to have been bridged.Reuse content