Russian chief denies Hiddink Chelsea link

January 7, 2007

Russia's soccer chief denied press reports that the country's Dutch coach Guus Hiddink may quit early to take over from Jose Mourinho as manager of English side Chelsea.

'He (Hiddink) has a contract, he is the current manager of the national side, and while his contract is in force no one can consider him as a candidate for another post,' Russian Football Union President Vitaly Mutko told Ekho Moskvy radio station.

Hiddink signed a 2-1/2 year contract to coach the Russian team in April last year.

Mourinho still feels aggrieved at the departure of William Gallas on the final day of the summer transfer window and Abramovich is, according to several Sunday newspapers, already preparing to replace him with Hiddink.

Chelsea are owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. The tycoon also pays a portion of Hiddink's wages and helped bring the Dutchman to Moscow.

Mourinho's relationship with owner Roman Abramovich and chief executive Peter Kenyon is believed to have reached breaking point, with the Portuguese coach frustrated with the behind-the-scenes political battles at the club.

Inter Milan have been touted as the most likely destination for Mourinho, who is looking to clinch a third successive Premiership crown with the second-placed Blues.

Hiddink, still in charge of the Russian national team, has revealed he has spoken to the Blues supremo in the past.

'Abramovich has created a massive football academy here (in Russia),' Hiddink told Elf Magazine.

'But he told me that Russia has not played a significant role in football for 10 years. He asked me if I could give him a helping hand.

'He was here the other day. He and I talked for a while about a number of things.

'He stays in the background and he is not pushy with things.

'I get on with him very well.'