Milan: Inter Milan are desperate to keep coach Jose Mourinho but the colourful Portuguese could be on his way whether or not they secure an unprecedented treble.
AS Roma`s home defeat by Sampdoria on Sunday put Inter back in command in the Serie A title race with three games left, while the champions also battle Roma in the Italian Cup final on May 5 for the fifth time in six years.
Champions League glory remains the major aim but Mourinho`s future is far from clear despite Inter holding a 3-1 lead heading into Wednesday`s semi-final second leg in Barcelona.
The highly successful former Porto and Chelsea coach hates the Italian soccer establishment so much that he refuses to hold domestic news conferences in case he clashes with the aggressive media and receives another touchline ban for his outspokenness.
"I am very happy at Inter but not in Italian football," he said last month, prompting renewed talk he wants to return to his beloved England.
The crafty 47-year-old caused more mystery and mischief after last week`s win over Barca, which put Inter a step closer to their first European Cup success since back-to-back wins in 1964 and 1965.
"Anything can happen in the second leg. We can go there and lose the game and lose the coach," he cryptically remarked.
Mourinho has consistently said he wants to win a league title in Spain to complement his triumphs with Chelsea and 2009 scudetto with Inter, leading to constant speculation linking him with the revolving door of managers which is Real Madrid.
Barcelona would look an unlikely destination given coach Pep Guardiola`s success and Mourinho`s rocky relationship with the Nou Camp since leaving as assistant coach in the late 1990s.
The greying charmer has said that one day he would return to Chelsea, but no one was really sure if he was joking, and has hinted that the Manchester United job would appeal.
But given Alex Ferguson has said he had no immediate plans to retire, Mourinho has no idea how long he may have to wait to have a shot at the Old Trafford hot-seat making Real, Liverpool, or seeing out his Inter contract until 2012 more likely.
Despite his acid tongue and abrasive nature, often with his own team, Inter are certain his mercurial managerial abilities outweigh the Mourinho circus which has led some Serie A rivals to say Italy would be better off without him.
Sulley Muntari, Mourinho`s first signing at Inter in 2008, has been blown away by the coach`s tactical acumen -- so much so it sounded like an advert for other interested clubs.
"We have done an amazing season. We didn`t believe it but you know it hasn`t finished yet, we can win all three or we can win one or two or maybe we could lose all three," the Ghana midfielder told reporters.
"We have full confidence in ourselves and now we have this great manager and he can transform the team in any way. We are happy about what we have done so far."
Inter president Massimo Moratti, excited about a possible first treble and vindicated over his decision to replace Roberto Mancini with Mourinho two years ago, is unperturbed by the rumours linking his master coach with a move away.
"Mourinho has a contract with Inter but even ignoring this, I am sure he will happily remain," Moratti told reporters.
"The newspapers talk about Mourinho as a character but they forget that, above all, he is a great professional."
"He takes care of every minor detail. He is very focused on the work in training and I believe he deserves all the money he gets from his contract."
Ultimately the decision rests with Mourinho and given his unhappiness in Italy and the fact he walked away from Porto in 2004 after their Champions League triumph, anything is possible.