Italian FA wants 'big name' replacement for Gian Piero Ventura
Italian Football Federation (FIGC) president Carlo Tavecchio says he is seeking a "big name" successor to Gian Piero Ventura following his dismissal as Italy coach on Wednesday.
Ventura was sacked after Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 60 years, losing out in their playoff to Sweden.
The former Torino coach was appointed by Tavecchio to succeed Antonio Conte following Euro 2016 and lasted less than two years at the helm.
He was considered a low-cost option after sponsors Puma had contributed to the salary of his predecessor, but money will likely be less of an obstacle now as Tavecchio vows to get the best man for the job.
"I spoke with Ventura today and I told him that we no longer require his collaboration and his services," Tavecchio said outside FIGC headquarters in Rome. "As of today, he is no longer coach of the Italy national team.
"We've also thought about big-name coaches on the horizon and we'll try to pursue this right to the end. I've called a federation meeting on Monday where I will present technical and organisational proposals and the advisors will discuss these."
Carlo Ancelotti is the favourite for the job and talks are reported to be underway with the former AC Milan, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich coach, who would first need to resolve his contractual situation with the Bundesliga club before being able to commit to Italy.
Conte is another name being linked with a return, although the Chelsea manager stressed during his two years at the helm, which culminated in a quarterfinal defeat to Germany at Euro 2016, that he preferred the day-to-day running of a club over the rarer appointments as a national team coach.
He would, nevertheless, still be the first choice for former Italy international Fabrizio Ravanelli, who says the FIGC should pull out all the stops to convince Conte to return.
"I would crawl through glass to bring Conte back," he told TMW Radio. "I would try anything it takes to convince him because what he did with the national team was immense. He's an innovator and he would really know how to rebuild the whole environment, in the way that Germany did very well."
Germany completely overhauled their game after finishing bottom of their group behind Portugal, Romania and England at Euro 2000.
There are calls for the same now to happen in Italy, although Tavecchio refused to assume his responsibility in their World Cup failure by resisting calls to resign.
After Tavecchio announced that he was going to fight on during Wednesday's meeting, the president of the Italian Professional Footballers' Association, Damiano Tommasi, decided he had already heard enough and left.
"The only thing we wanted to hear was that we were going to start over from scratch, with new elections," Tommasi told reporters. "The president told us he was not going to resign and nobody challenged him, so if this is the way things are going to be, it's hard to think about anything else.
"All I wanted to hear was that we were going to start over with new, long-term plans, but I didn't hear this. I think it is only normal and the minimum of [Tavecchio's] responsibility. I think Italian football needs something else."
In a tweet, Tommasi alluded to Tavecchio making Ventura take all the responsibility for Italy's failure while absolving himself, writing: "Today I got the confirmation that benches are more uncomfortable than thrones."
The president of the Italian Olympic Committee, Giovanni Malago, had also called on Tavecchio to step down, and he too was disappointed to see his advice ignored.
"He's clearly decided that he wants to do something different to what I think he should do," he told Sky Sport Italia. "It was never a given that he would listen to my advice. It's his prerogative to decide to stay and he considered it was right that the federation should continue with him.
"I don't want to be controversial. There is this world of football, which is made up of different components and, as you will have heard, they have assumed the responsibility to confirm their faith in Tavecchio. It's their choice."
Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.