Tokyo: Japan`s football chiefs refused to comment Tuesday on reports linking Danish former Barcelona and Real Madrid star Michael Laudrup to the national team`s vacant coaching job.
Laudrup, who won league titles as a player with some of Europe`s biggest clubs, has emerged, along with former England coach Glenn Hoddle, as a possible replacement for sacked Mexican Javier Aguirre.
The Sports Nippon, quoting unnamed sources, said the Japan Football Association (JFA) may officially offer the job to 50-year-old Laudrup, who is currently coaching in Qatar after a two-year stint with English Premier League side Swansea City ended with his sacking a year ago.
A spokeswoman for the JFA declined to comment on the report, saying only: "The issue of the national team`s next coach is still under consideration."
According to the sports daily, the JFA is set to open formal negotiations with Laudrup`s current employer, the Doha-based Lekhwiya, over any fees that would need to be paid to release him from his contract.
"Laudrup is taking a positive stance over the idea of becoming coach of the Japan national team," an unnamed source close to the Middle East country`s football world told the daily.
"The possibility of his move to Japan is high if the issue of penalty charges can be resolved," the source said.
Laudrup is a hero in Denmark having scored 37 goals in more than 100 matches for his country.
A glittering career with some of Europe`s biggest clubs saw stints at Juventus, Ajax Barcelona and Real Madrid, as well as a brief spell in Japan when he plied his trade for Vissel Kobe of the J-League in 1996 and 1997.
A JFA negotiator was heading to Qatar to thrash out the details of a possible contract with Laudrup, including his possible annual salary, the Sports Nippon said.
Japan is on the hunt to find a replacement for Aguirre, whose short reign in charge of the Blue Samurai was brought to a swift end last week as a match-fixing scandal relating to a previous tenure intensified.
The Mexican was reportedly Japan`s highest-ever paid national coach, on an estimated $2.45 million a year.
But the former Asian champions failed to spark under Aguirre, with a series of unimpressive performances that culminated in their humiliating quarter-final exit from the Asian Cup in Australia last month at the hands of the United Arab Emirates.
Along with former England midfielder Hoddle, other names suggested for the post include one-time Portuguese national coach Paulo Bento and current Iran coach Carlos Queiroz.