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Speculation mounts over Prandelli

Cesare Prandelli’s hint that he will step down as Italy coach after next summer’s World Cup has raised the question as to who could replace him at the helm of the Azzurri.

• Buffon tipped to continue until 2018

The former Fiorentina coach told a news conference that he would reveal the decision surrounding his future as soon as Italy book their ticket for Brazil, a remark which has been interpreted as meaning he will lead Italy to the World Cup, but not beyond.

Already, candidates have emerged to replace him with Antonio Conte ruling himself out of the running, but Massimiliano Allegri says the position would appeal to him, as it would to 2006 World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro.

"I’m delighted as I am with Juve," said Conte from UEFA’s coaching forum in Nyon. "For me, the national team is being led by the right man in the right place."

Allegri was of a contrasting opinion, however. He told Sky television: "Of course I’d like to coach the national team. It’s the dream of every coach to be in charge of the team representing your own country, but right now, I’m perfectly happy at Milan. Maybe I can see myself there in five or ten years."

Cannavaro, who lifted the World Cup in Berlin in 2006, told Radio Kiss Kiss it "would be an honour" to manage the national team, adding: "If the president of the FIGC were to call me, I certainly wouldn’t decline."

However, according to Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, Prandelli is not going to give up his job so easily and now is not the right time to talk about what will happen next July anyway.

“I think we’re all getting unnecessarily carried away,” he said at a press conference. “It’s all part of the game and with all due respect, we’re only thinking about the World Cup and our maximum attention has got to be focused only in that direction.”

Prandelli took over from Marcello Lippi as Italy coach in 2010 and has led the Squadra Azzurra to the final of Euro 2012 and third place in the Confederations Cup this summer. His contract as Italy coach expires after next summer's World Cup and it is thought the 56-year-old favours a return to club management having previously led Fiorentina into the Champions League during five years with the Viola.

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