Andre Villas-Boas
Villas-Boas was sacked by Tottenham last December.

Former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur boss Andre Villas-Boas is set to return to management with Russian giants Zenit St Petersburg.

Luciano Spalletti was sacked last week despite the club being second in the Premier League and having reached the last 16 of the Champions League.

Sergey Semak has been installed as acting head coach while the club search for a successor but according to Benfica boss Jorge Jesus – a close confidant of Villas-Boas – the ex-Chelsea and Tottenham boss is set for a quick return.

"What I know - and what I probably should not say as I do not know if it's definite is that yesterday we talked for several minutes and he told me he was going to Zenit," Jesus told reporters on Saturday.

Despite winning four trophies in his only season with FC Porto in the 2010/11 campaign, Villas-Boas' reputation has been severely damaged by short spells in the Premier League with Chelsea and Tottenham where he was sacked after eight and 18 months respectively.

Following his sacking at Chelsea, the Blues went on to win the Champions League and FA Cup double under Roberto di Matteo that same season while Tottenham have enjoyed decent success under Tim Sherwood since the 35 year old was removed as boss last December.

As a result Zenit fans are already concerned by Villas-Boas' imminent arrival though general director Maksim Mitrofanov has moved to play down the appointment.

"It's no secret that we are negotiating with foreign expects who we consider as candidates for the head coach position," he said.

"The circle is small and we are approaching this selection very carefully. Each of the potential candidates are evaluated on many criteria.

"Football attracts sensationalism and many coaches are simply trying to attract attention. I don't understand why the head coach of Benfica, Jorge Jesus, has shared with Portuguese journalists some information that doesn't concern him.

"Villas-Boas will not be signing on Monday, as the press has hastened to inform us. The decision to appoint the head coach should be measured and taken quietly."

Though Villas-Boas is not expected to be unveiled before Zenit's Champions League last 16 second leg against Borussia Dortmund, in which they will seek to overturn a 4-2 deficit, he could be installed prior to the home game against Krylya Sovetov on 24 March.

Defeat to Arsenal saw Tottenham's attempts to qualify for next season's Champions League damaged while now under Jose Mourinho Chelsea lead the Premier League table by six points following a 1-0 loss at Aston Villa.