Guus Hiddink leaves door open for permanent stay at Chelsea
LONDON -- Guus Hiddink has ruled himself out of the running to be Chelsea's next permanent manager for now, but hints he could be tempted to change his mind.
Chelsea are seven matches unbeaten in all competitions since Hiddink's return for a second spell as interim manager last month, and dented Arsenal's Premier League title hopes with a 1-0 win at Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
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Pep Guardiola, Diego Simeone and Antonio Conte were reported to be at the top of owner Roman Abramovich's list to take over this summer in the immediate aftermath of Jose Mourinho's departure, but recent days have given rise to speculation that the search has widened to include potential Premier League candidates such as Mauricio Pochettino, Mark Hughes, Eddie Howe and Claudio Ranieri.
Hiddink has always insisted that his remit is temporary -- just as it was in February 2009 when the Dutchman agreed to succeed Luiz Felipe Scolari while maintaining his international commitments with the Russia national team.
Asked on Friday if he would still rule himself out of taking the Chelsea job on a permanent basis, Hiddink replied: "Yes." But when pressed on whether anything could make him reconsider his stance, the Dutchman added: "I'm human. You can tempt every human being."
Hiddink is closing in on his first signing of the January transfer window as Alexandre Pato finalised the details of a six-month loan move to Stamford Bridge, and Chelsea's interim manager insists he was given a significant say in the decision to pursue the Brazilian.
"I said, 'We are short of strikers and let's look at available strikers,'" Hiddink revealed. "Not having [Radamel] Falcao and with [Loic] Remy's injury frequency, I said let's go for it [the Pato deal]. The green light is mine and getting him on loan means there's no big risk for the club."
Chelsea's decision to sell Ramires to Jiangsu Suning in a deal reported to be worth around £25 million this week took many supporters by surprise, but Hiddink reveals that it was taken with a view to increasing the number of first-team opportunities afforded to Ruben Loftus-Cheek and other talented youngsters on the fringes at Stamford Bridge.
"We can [now] give the youngsters a chance as well to show themselves," Hiddink added when asked about the Ramires deal. "[Loftus-Cheek] did very well in training the other day and the youngsters will have opportunities. That made it easier towards the future to let Ramires go."
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.