The rumour mill had whirred into action long before Real Madrid president Florentino Perez confirmed the departure of manager Jose Mourinho this week, but it would now appear almost inconceivable that the Portuguese manager will not fall into the arms of former club Chelsea once more this summer, according to Martin Rogers of Yahoo! Sports.
For Mourinho, it is the perfect job.
A homecoming to a place where he feels loved by players and supporters alike, following a tumultuous relationship with both groups in Madrid. Add to that his better dealings with the English press and everything begins to click into place.
Chelsea, likewise, would be delighted to see his return. The Portuguese manager won two league titles and three cups in his three complete seasons in charge at the club and his spectre has loomed large ever since.
Despite subsequent triumphs, there was still a longstanding feeling that this was "Jose's team."
But, will the marriage made in heaven taste as sweet in reality? After all, it is only six years since Mourinho parted ways with the club after significant fallings-out with club owner Roman Abramovich. Judging by their actions in the intervening period, neither would appear to have mellowed greatly.
It has been widely speculated that Mourinho wanted the hot seat at Old Trafford following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, but was considered to be too disruptive to succeed at a club who take pride in their image and stability.
Also, Abramovich is said to have idolised Barcelona and thus signed the likes of Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard for his side. These are not typical "Mourinho players" and will certainly require a different approach to the one that served the Portuguese well on his first sojourn at Stamford Bridge.
Other changes, too, might not sit so well with the image that Mourinho will want to portray. He may be coming home, but will his former loyal servants be staying?
What of outcasts Michael Essien and Florent Malouda? Frank Lampard may have got a new deal, but will John Terry and Ashley Cole remain much longer?
These are all questions Mourinho must answer, and while he may value loyalty, he cannot afford to retain players who are not pulling their weight anymore.
Mourinho will need to resolve such issues. He doesn't have the players to come back and play the same game plan, but he will be expected to be successful.
Chelsea finished 14 points behind Manchester United this season, despite the Red Devils easing their way to the end of the season. It could, and should, have been an even bigger gap.
With the departure of both Sir Alex Ferguson and Roberto Mancini from the top two sides, many of the club's fans will expect Mourinho to overturn that gap. It will not be an easy task, though.
Then there is the youth development argument. It has been the stick used to beat the Portuguese boss at Real Madrid and is also said to have influenced United's decision to overlook his claims for the managerial position at Old Trafford.
Chelsea simply cannot afford to overlook their young talents. The likes of Romelu Lukaku, Thibaut Courtois, Kevin de Bruyne and Lucas Piazon have arrived in West London at great cost, but must soon be offered a route into the first team.
Beyond that, 17-year-old Nathaniel Chalobah has been one of the revelations of the Championship in his performances on loan at Watford, while fellow 17-year-olds Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Andreas Christensen have both been included on the club's end-of-season tour to the USA.
That is all before considering the fact that Chelsea's Under-18 side have reached two FA Youth Cup finals in succession—winning one—and have gone on to win the Europe-wide NextGen Series at Under-19 level.
Mourinho did little to bring through young players at Chelsea, Inter Milan or Real Madrid, but simply cannot waste the abundant talent that he will encounter in West London. It would be a major disaster for the club's long-term planning.
But therein lies the problem with hiring Mourinho—it is never long-term. He may have turned over a new leaf, but just how long will his relationship with Abramovich hold firm?
The odds of a stay of over three or four years will be generous to say the least.
Despite all this, though, Mourinho remains an excellent manager. He could well lead the side to great success and bring through youngsters in the process. It is not a case of him not being capable of doing so.
Mourinho's admiration for Ferguson is well-known, but he would do well to learn from the Scot regarding his coming opportunity.
A fleeting visit will do little to benefit Chelsea overall, bar to boost the immediate size requirements of the trophy cabinet. The Blues, more than anything, need stability and a long-term development strategy.
Perhaps now, then, it is time for Mourinho to show that he has more strings to his bow. If he doesn't, then his decision to return could be a disaster.
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