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Mourinho tipped for Barcelona as arch critic Cruyff departs

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Guest Brian M

Mourinho tipped for Barcelona as arch critic Cruyff departs the scene

JOSE Mourinho will take the managerial reigns at the Nou Camp this summer, according to reports.

The French press reported last week that the Portuguese turned down the chance to coach French Champions Lyon next season, the probable reason being that he is waiting for Barça.

Respected bi-weekly magazine France Football – first to break the story that Thierry Henry had agreed to join Barça last summer – claims that Mourinho was offered the Nou Camp job after meeting club officials, including sporting director Txiki Beguiristain, during the African Cup of Nations.

Since then, it is reported Mourinho has been working on his plans for the club. After presenting Barça with a detailed dossier, he is said to have compiled DVDs of each player in the squad which assesses their strengths and weaknesses and has handed the club a wish-list of the players he would like to sign.

Club legend Johan Cruyff was the biggest opponent to Mourinho's appointment. Mourinho, who was Bobby Robson's former assistant at Barça, upset Cruyff when he responded to criticism from the Dutchman of Chelsea's negative style, saying: "I don't want him to teach me how to lose 4-0 in a Champions League final because I don't want to learn that." 541.gif

This was a reference to the 1994 European Cup final when Cruyff's Barça were humiliated by Milan, and Mourinho's jibe left Cruyff seething. But with the Dutch great last week agreeing to rejoin Ajax, where he will be employed as general manager to oversee the formation of a new technical and sporting structure, the path has been cleared for Mourinho.

Barcelona vice-president Marc Ingla and Beguiristain are believed to have been given the green light to mastermind Mourinho's recruitment and the pair met in Lisbon last month with Jorge Mendes, the Portuguese agent who represents Mourinho.

Rijkaard's contract runs until the end of next season but, despite a revival in form that has seen them close the gap on leaders Real Madrid at the top of La Liga, it is expected he will step down. Club president Joan Laporta has said Rijkaard can stay until his presidential term comes to an end in 2010, but has made no move to renew his contract.

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