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It has been six months since Jose Mourinho was shown the door at Old Trafford. Rumours of a return to Real Madrid were dashed when Zinedine Zidane returned to The Bernabeu. Now it appears Antonio Conte is on his way to Inter Milan, blocking any chance of Mourinho making an emotional return to The San Siro. Mourinho insists he wants to go back to management and expects to be in work by June, but what are his options heading into the offseason?
Paris Saint Germain
PSG are rumoured to be losing patience with Thomas Tuchel after their early Champions League exit to Manchester United and now defeat in the French Cup Final to Rennes.
The Case For: PSG crave Champions League success, Mourinho is the only available manager with multiple Champions League titles to his name. Mourinho can organize a side to dig out an away result in Europe and his teams are usually mentally strong enough to cope with high expectations. He has proven he can get the best out of established superstars in Ronaldo, Zlatan, Ozil, Modric and Ramos.
The Case Against: It remains to be seen if PSG do get rid of Tuchel after just one season in charge. The PSG project is about building a brand and playing stylish football. With that in mind, the snarling pragmatist would make an odd figurehead. While Mourinho got the best out of older stars, his problems with Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial don’t bode well for a prospective relationship with Neymar or Pogba’s international teammate Kylian Mbappe.
Mourinho is currently second-favourite for the vacant job at Parkhead. The capture of Brendan Rodgers was seen as a coup, but could they pull off an even bigger one?
The Case For: Mourinho is a trophy hunter and no job in world football comes with a greater chance of adding two or three trophies a season than Celtic. There is no doubt Mourinho is a big enough personality to handle the unique pressure that comes with managing an ‘Old Firm’ club; something that swallowed up numerous managers in Glasgow. Celtic ultimately need to progress in Europe, and Mourinho showed at Porto he can win in Europe with limited resources.
The Case Against: It’s unlikely Celtic could afford the costly Mourinho, unless he wants to take a pay-cut. Even then, they would have to offer a transfer kitty big enough to interest him. While Celtic come with a near guarantee of trophies, but winning the Scottish Premiership is unlikely to rehabilitate Mourinho’s reputation with the European elite.
The Ligue 1 outfit who won seven straight league titles from 2001-2008 may be looking to move on from Bruno Genesio and have been linked with Mourinho.
The Case For: Having opened their new 59,000-seat stadium in 2016, Lyon are trying to re-establish themselves as contenders in both Ligue 1 and the Champions League. With their financial strength increasing, Lyon need a manager to take them to the next level. Mourinho would be taking over a club in next season’s Champions League, having made the knockout phase this season, but would have a free hand in transfers in comparison to the restrictions he’d likely encounter with PSG.
The Case Against: Lyon finished fifteen points behind PSG this season and re-establishing them as champions won’t be a short-term project. It’s debatable whether or not Lyon could afford Mourinho, and the manager tends to prefer higher-profile clubs rather than project clubs.
Roma yet again well placed to reach the Champions League, but failed to challenge Juventus for The Scudetto and haven’t won a trophy since 2008. Claudio Ranieri has only been in post since March, but has confirmed he’s leaving at the end of the season.
The Case For: The last time Mourinho followed Ranieri into a job it went pretty well; five major trophies in three seasons. Meanwhile, Roma’s last Serie A title came when they gave Fabio Capello the chance to redeem his reputation after that failed second spell with AC Milan. Mourinho is a finisher who has won cup competitions everywhere he’s been, a useful trait for a club without a trophy since 2008. With Conte set for Inter and Carlo Ancelotti at Napoli, Roma may feel they need to think big to compete.
The Case Against: Mourinho has already won the treble with Inter, so he’s already ticked the Italy box on his CV. As much as Roma are Champions League regulars, they don’t quite have the kudos of the Milan clubs or Juve.
The Bavarian giants are considering the future of Niko Kovac after a mixed first season. Bayern have considered Mourinho before, but this is a team rebuilding and looking to get younger, and Mourinho prefers veteran sides. His histrionics and pattern of squeezing every drop out of a squad and leaving it drained probably rules Bayern out.
Mourinho has reportedly turned down the chance to return to his homeland with table-topping Benfica. It’s difficult to see what Mourinho would have to gain by a return to the Primeira Liga where he has already won two European trophies with Porto.
This would be a left field move, but ambitious Wolves are represented by Jorge Mendes, whose clients happen to include Jose Mourinho. Despite the ‘Mendes FC’ jibes, Wolves remain happy with Nuno Espirito Santo and are not looking to change.
Mourinho has always hinted he’d like to finish his career managing the country of his birth and he did flirt with taking the England job in 2007. However, the European Champions and Nations League Finalists are unlikely to move on from Fernando Santos prior to Euro 2020. Mourinho would prefer at least one more club job before trying his luck at the World Cup.
Given all Mourinho’s previous form during his time with Real Madrid and Chelsea, it would be a major shock if Barca turned to a former nemesis. However, Ernesto Valverde is in deep trouble after Barca’s Anfield humping and it shouldn’t be forgotten Mourinho was Sir Bobby Robson’s assistant at Barca in 1995-96.
Mourinho lives in West London and Chelsea remains his spiritual home. However, the sour final season is too fresh in the memory and he burned his bridges with too many people to return again to Stamford Bridge.
It seems highly unlikely Mourinho’s next job will be in England. Of the elite jobs on the European mainland Juventus & Real Madrid are unavailable, whilst Barcelona & Bayern seem off limits to Mourinho. If PSG fire Tuchel, the need for a Champions League win may just take them to the two time European Champion. If not, Mourinho’s choices are take a longer-term project such as Lyon, or return to a league he’s already conquered in Italy or his native Portugal.