Hiddink begins talks with Chelsea

Russia manager Guus Hiddink says he has been approached to take over as Chelsea manager until the end of the season, BBC reported.

The west London club made a move for the Dutchman after sacking Brazilian Luiz Felipe Scolari on Monday.

Hiddink, 62, who has close links with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, said: "If it was any other club my answer would be a straight 'No'.

"But Chelsea is different because I have good relations with the owner. I would like to help them if I could."

However, Hiddink stressed he will not be relinquishing his duties with Russia and is fully committed to helping the team qualify for the 2010 World Cup.

"This would only be for the next two or three months until the end of the season," he said.

"I will not leave my job with the Russian national team. It's out of the question.

"When I took the Russia job it was a long-term project and I don't like to leave it unfinished."

Chelsea assistant manager Ray Wilkins is in temporary charge of the team until a new manager is appointed.

Hiddink has the extensive club and international experience Abramovich is searching for having coached PSV Eindhoven, Real Madrid as well as the Netherlands, South Korea and Australia.

And he insists juggling both club and international commitments would not be a problem having previously combined both duties.

"I have already done that a couple of years ago when I was coaching Australia and PSV, so I'm familiar with the situation and what it takes," said Hiddink, who is in Turkey for a training camp with the Russia squad.

Former Rangers star Artur Numan, who played under Hiddink for the Netherlands, told BBC Radio Five Live that man-management is one of his key strengths.

"He knows exactly what's going on in the dressing room. That's his big quality and why he has been so successful in all the different countries he has worked."

Billionaire Abramovich was instrumental in Hiddink's appointment as Russia manager in 2006.

He was among a host of names linked with the vacant Stamford Bridge job after the surprising dismissal of World Cup-winning coach Scolari.

Former Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard, Italian Roberto Mancini, West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola and ex-Chelsea boss Avram Grant have all been touted as possible successors.

Rijkaard, who left the Nou Camp in May last year, said he would be interested in the vacancy - but would only consider an approach for the start of next season.

"If the job offer is for starting right now, the chances will reduce quite dramatically because he is in a one-year sabbatical and planning to hold on to this," Rijkaard's agent Perry Overeem told BBC Radio 5 Live on Tuesday.

Italian Mancini, 44, who has been out of work since being sacked by Inter last summer, has been linked with a move to the London club in recent months.

However, his agent Giorgio de Giorgis said he has had no contact with Chelsea.

De Giorgis told the Italian media: "No-one has contacted us, hence, I exclude the possibility that Mancini will go to Chelsea.

"We are aware of Scolari's sacking but they would have contacted us in the case they had thought about Mancini. Instead, they have contacted others."

West Ham have warned Chelsea that Zola and number two Steve Clarke, assistant to Jose Mourinho during his three-year reign at Stamford Bridge, are not available.

Italian Zola was voted Chelsea's best-ever player in a 2003 fans' poll, while Clarke served as a player and respected coach for 20 years.

But a West Ham board member told BBC Sport: "We have not received any contact from Chelsea and will not welcome any.

"We are delighted with the job Zola and Clarke are doing - they are under contract here for three years and we want them to stay."

Zola's lawyer, Fulvio Marrucco, released a statement insisting no approach had been made from Chelsea.

"At the moment we know nothing about the link between Gianfranco Zola and the vacant position at Chelsea," Marrucco said in a statement.

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