Chelsea are close to agreeing a permanent deal with interim manager Guus Hiddink after it emerged Dick Advocaat is being lined up to succeed him as coach of Russia, according to reports in the UK press.
Hiddink has reinvigorated Chelsea since replacing ousted Brazilian Luiz Felipe Scolari earlier this month, winning two high-profile matches against Aston Villa and Juventus, but has always maintained he will leave Stamford Bridge in the summer to concentrate on his full-time, international job.
However, Chelsea's Russian owner Roman Abramovich, who is heavily involved in the funding of his national team, has now identified Zenit St Petersburg coach Advocaat as the leading candidate to replace his fellow Dutchman, which would therefore allow Hiddink to remain in west London.
The Daily Mail claim that despite Hiddink's protestations he will still be offered a full-time deal by Abramovich, who will push for Advocaat to take the national team job in order to placate angry Russia supporters who staged a demonstration in Moscow following the poaching of Hiddink.
Advocaat has been a huge success in Russia with Zenit winning the league in 2007, the UEFA Cup the following year and then beating Manchester United in the UEFA Super Cup in Monaco last August.
Russia are currently in the middle of a qualification campaign for World Cup 2010 and face ties against Azerbaijan and Liechtenstein before the end of the English season in May.