06/03/2012 09:00 GMT | Updated 14/03/2012 17:09 GMT

Pep Guardiola Emerges As Roman Abramovich's Choice To Replace Andre Villas-Boas, Reports Say

Pep Guardiola has emerged as Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich's preferred choice for his eighth manager in nine years, according to reports.

The Blues head into their fifth round FA Cup replay with Birmingham City tonight with conjecture varying as to who their next manager will be after Andre Villas-Boas' Sunday sacking.

But The Times insist that indirect contact has been made with the Barcelona coach to discover if he would be interested in moving to west London.

Last week the same newspaper stated that a similar approach had been made to ex-Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez, and the Spaniard has remained coy on the possibility of him returning to English football.

Jose Mourinho is 5/1 favourite, and although the Portuguese was spotted house-hunting in London last week, it is plausible that Abramovich, whose decision to fire Villas-Boas was labelled an "embarrassment" by League Managers' Association chief Richard Bevan, will avoid an admission of guilt by returning to Mourinho for success.

Graham Hunter was granted exclusive access to Barca for his book charting their rise, but can't envisage Guardiola at Chelsea:

He will also cost the Russian £15m if he is to reel in his most successful employee from Real Madrid. Which, after the £42m spent on sacking Carlo Ancelotti and then hiring and sacking Villas-Boas, risks exacerbating the club's turnover figures with financial fair play looming in 2014.

Guardiola's contract at Barcelona expires this sumer and he is yet to sign an extension, as he prefers to deal with contractual issues once a campaign has ended.

He invariably leaves it late to ink new deals. He signed in January 2010 with just a few months remaining on his two-year deal signed upon taking over in 2008, whilst last year delayed an agreement until February.

The Independent, however, claim that he met club president Sandro Rosell at his house last week, and may make a public comment soon to clarify that he will stay one more year. Several backroom staff mambers have already agreed to continue in their respective roles next year.

The Catalan saw off Chelsea on away goals in the 2009 Champions League semi-final, en route to winning the competition against Manchester United in the Rome final.

Barcelona knock Chelsea out of the Champions League:

Whether he would like to take on an inhibited job and endure a collection of egos for a lucrative meal ticket remains to be seen however.

Roberto Di Matteo, also unpopular amongst certain members of the Chelsea squad, is in interim charge until the end of the season, and has been joined by fellow 1997 FA Cup final goalscorer Eddie Newton.

Newton previously worked at Chelsea's academy in the past before assisting Di Matteo during the Italian's managerial stints at Milton Keynes Dons and West Brom.

Like the England national job, the Chelsea equivalent is now resembling that scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when Walter Donovan has to choose which of the lavish cups on display is the Holy Grail. He chooses "poorly", but with Abramovich, every chalice seems to be laced with poison.

Avram Grant chooses poorly: