Carlo Ancelotti was offered the chance to replace Jose Mourinho at Chelsea five weeks before they sacked the Portuguese manager.
Ancelotti, who left Real Madrid at the end of last season, was Chelsea’s first choice ahead of interim manager Guus Hiddink to take the job until May.
And Sportsmail can reveal the Italian was approached by the club in November, more than a month before Roman Abramovich took the decision to fire the beleaguered Mourinho on December 17.
But the Italian did not want to return to Chelsea on a short-term deal. Instead he signed a three-year contract to replace Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich having taken a sabbatical from the game.
Hiddink, who won the FA Cup with Chelsea in 2009, eventually took the job on a short-term basis after Mourinho was sacked following defeat at Leicester.
Despite Hiddink’s experience, it has emerged Ancelotti met Chelsea officials to discuss a return.
Owner Roman Abramovich told friends that sacking Ancelotti was the biggest regret of his managerial changes and wanted to bring him back after dismissing Mourinho.
The 56-year-old won the Premier League and FA Cup in his first season at Chelsea, but Abramovich struggled to accept the Champions League quarter-final defeat by Mourinho’s Inter Milan.
The following year they lost to Manchester United at the same stage of the Champions League as well as finishing finished runners-up to Sir Alex Ferguson’s team in the Premier League.
Ancelotti told friends life at the club was made ‘intolerable’ in the weeks before he was finally sacked at the end of the 2010-11 season. Ancelotti also held talks with Liverpool in the weeks before Brendan Rodgers’ dismissal.
Sportsmail revealed on Thursday that Manchester United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward sounded him out about the possibility of replacing Louis van Gaal, but Ancelotti was already deep in discussions with Bayern Munich at that point.
Manchester City put down a marker for Ancelotti in case their bid for Guardiola fails, but they will have to look elsewhere if the former Barcelona coach jilts them.
Meanwhile, Chelsea misfit Radamel Falcao travelled to Monaco this week for tests on a thigh injury. The Colombia striker is back in London but is expected to have his loan cut short. Hiddink has blocked striker Loic Remy’s departure on loan.
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