Ancelotti leading race to succeed Mourinho

Posted by Nicholas Rigg

Anyone care for a swap this summer? Portuguese for Italian? Relative youth for experience? Champions League winner for Champions League winner? Sounds interesting, and it's the kind of swap that Real Madrid are seemingly interested in, according to reports coming out of France this week.

Jose Mourinho for Carlo Ancelotti. The 'Special One' to Paris Saint-Germain and Ligue 1, the Italian One, affectionately known as 'Carletto', to Real Madrid and La Liga. Deal or No Deal?

-- Unhappy Jese newest Mourinho headache at Real

Mourinho's future at the Bernabeu is all-but-up come the summer. A breakdown with his squad, a personality that, by the looks of things, is becoming irritating for many Madridistas, possibly including those who run the club, and a domestic failure this season that has seen Los Blancos emphatically trail not just leaders Barcelona but also city rivals Atletico Madrid.

Even if Madrid do manage to win a landmark 10th Champions League title this season, the former Inter Milan, Chelsea and Porto boss is heading out of the Spanish capital. A failure would simply cement his shortcomings this season; a victory would allow Mourinho to walk out of the front door, rather than be kicked out of the back. It will define his stay at the Bernabeu, no matter how bad Madrid have been in the league this term.

Few names have been mentioned as his possible successor. Strange given the size of Real Madrid, the sources the local press have, and the timeframe between now and the end of the season to get a new man in - although attentions will not want to drift too much with the club still going for that European crown. Strange until now, that is, with both Marca and AS carrying the story of French daily newspaper Le Parisien saying Anceloitti has a verbal agreement with Madrid to manage the club.

It all stems from Ancelotti, who won the Champions League twice during his spell at AC Milan, telling French paper L'Equipe that "If the club [PSG] are not happy with me, I will have no problem in leaving." It turns out Carletto has a clause in his contract with the Ligue 1 leaders that if he does not finish in the top three, he's free to go elsewhere. Understandable, perhaps, given the riches PSG are currently spending to become one of the major players in world football.

The capital club still lead the table but suffered a loss at the weekend and all, it seems, is not so wonderful at the Parc des Princes, despite what looks like a good season with the club still in the Champions League and favourites to progress to a quarterfinal spot thanks to a first-leg lead after an away win in their tie with Valencia. To adapt a slogan from the Spiderman films: With great money, comes great expectations -- as managers are also finding out at big-spending Chelsea, where Ancelotti was a victim, too.

It could all come together nicely, from a football romantic's point of view, anyway, in a few months time if Ancelotti does indeed take the Madrid job and Mourinho moves in the other direction. Both managers are being linked with returns to the English Premier League but Ancelotti, having already managed Chelsea, would jump at a shot to lead Madrid. For Mourinho, his destination will always be England - but could that be via a year or two in France. Another challenge, a big pay cheque.

Paris have already sounded out Mourinho via the media in recent months, and the Portuguese has not exactly turned a blind eye to it, telling Canal+ in a recent interview "It's a possibility, but I do not know when. I can not say when. Why not!"

So what of Ancelotti's credentials for the Bernabeu? As far as Madrid go, and as far as president Florentino Perez goes - pretty well. The Italian has enjoyed success wherever he's been - ever since helping his first club Reggiana to promotion to Serie A and securing Champions League spots for Parma, he was touted by Juventus and swiftly moved on for his best spell in management with Milan, where he won two Champions Leagues, one Serie A title and a Coppa Italia, among other trophies.

Next step Chelsea - not long after Mourinho there, either. He did something Mourinho could not do in London in helping Chelsea to their first domestic double with the Premier League and FA Cup. As seems to be the norm at Chelsea, he was sacked for the slightest of drops in performance in 2011, and PSG did not waste time in snapping him up.

Ancelotti has won major trophies and he's shown he can do that outside of the comfort zone of his own country, thanks to his success with Chelsea and what could be more success in France. He's managed big, big personalities, and does not suffer fools gladly. Although the Madrid job is probably one of the most daunting in football, the Italian is one man who seems to be able to fit the bill. For my money, he's certainly the best name mentioned so far.

Jurgen Klopp has said he will stay in Germany with Borussia Dortmund, while countryman Joachim Löw is believed to be ready to see out his contract with the German national team, which expires in 2014. Arsene Wenger's name has been touted about - again - but the Frenchman's managerial style, especially in the transfer market, is not one that suits the Madrid game plan.

Expect more to come on Ancelotti to Madrid in the coming weeks and months. While Madrid are still in the Champions League, the next manager rumours may not be in top gear, but if Los Blancos lose at Manchester United next week expect them to ramp up in speed and intensity.

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