London - Chelsea are willing to make Laurent Blanc the highest paid manager in English football after identifying the France coach as the frontrunner for the vacancy at Stamford Bridge, The Times reported on Tuesday.
The newspaper said Chelsea were ready to offer Blanc a staggering £8 million annual salary if he stepped down from his position with France after the European Championships.
The Times reported that "intermediaries acting on behalf" of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich had made initial contact with Blanc's camp last week to see if the former France captain was interested in the role.
The report did not give any indication of whether Blanc, whose contract with France runs out after Euro 2012, was keen on the Chelsea job.
The Times reported that Abramovich was ready to shell out a salary that would make Blanc the highest paid coach in England, dwarfing the £5 million paid to Roberto Mancini at Manchester City.
The inflated wages reflected Blanc's status as a free agent, The Times commented, stating that Abramovich was not keen on having to make a large compensation payment to a coach already in employment.
Chelsea, who play Benfica in a Champions League quarter-final first leg later on Tuesday, are currently being led by interim coach Roberto Di Matteo following the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas earlier this month.
Di Matteo is not viewed within Chelsea as a long-term option, The Times report said, adding that no final decision on the manager's vacancy would be taken until the end of the current season.