Fulham boss Mark Hughes heads a three-strong shortlist to become the new head coach of Bayern Munich. The Fulham manager, a former Bayern player, is understood to have been targeted by the club’s president, Uli Hoeness, and an approach may be made in the next few days.
Bayern are also considering Bayern Leverkusen coach Jupp Heynkes, who has stalled on contract negotiations at his present club, and former Germany captain Matthias Sammer, who has had managerial jobs at Borussia Dortmund and Stuttgart and who is working for the German Football Federation.
Bayern’s coach, Louis van Gaal, was told last week that his contract would be terminated at the end of this season after suggestions for some time that the Dutchman would go despite having one more year left.
The German champions have struggled in the league this season, were knocked out of the domestic cup and went out of the Champions League to Inter Milan on Tuesday night despite winning the away leg.
Fulham would be an intriguing choice for Bayern, the club he played for in the late 1980s, on loan from Barcelona, when Hoeness was the general manager.
The former Manchester City manager joined Fulham at the end of last August, after Martin Jol turned down the post, although soon after his appointment there were discussions at Aston Villa as to whether they should approach him to replace Martin O’Neill.
It was announced that Hughes had signed a two-year deal but it is understood there may be an agreement in his contract which means he could leave at the end of this campaign without compensation being paid.
Bayern are investigating how much it would cost to hire Hughes, and if there would be any compensation involved, and whether he would be determined to bring his backroom staff with him.
Hughes works with a tight network of staff who have been with him for some time and it is likely he would want to bring the likes of Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki.
If Bayern do decide to approach Fulham over Hughes, 47, it would be a bold move by the club and would also be tempting for the highly-ambitious manager.
Hughes’s managerial career began with a five-year stint in charge of Wales, whom he almost took to the Euro 204 finals, only a play-off defeat to Russia by a single goal over the two legs denied him.
He then spent four impressive seasons at Blackburn Rovers, leading them to three domestic cup semi-finals and establishing them in the top half of the Premier League.
Hughes left Ewood Park for City in the summer of 2008 and weeks into his reign the club were taken over by the Abu Dhabi United Group, who harshly sacked him in December the following year.
Fulham had a difficult spell in the first half of the season, with a squad badly affected by injury and the exertions of the last campaign when they reached the Europa League final under Roy Hodgson.
There was a fear that Hughes was going to be sacked around Christmas time. An away victory at Stoke City began the team’s rally and Hughes’s stock has continued to rise.
Hughes is understood to be happy at Fulham and there is no great urgency for him to leave Craven Cottage. However if Bayern were to follow up their interest with a serious offer it might be difficult for him to turn down a club of their stature and resources.