Roberto Mancini in frame to become next Italy national team coach - reports
Roberto Mancini has emerged as the frontrunner for the Italy job after he met with Alessandro Costacurta in Rome on Monday, according to reports.
Mancini, the Zenit St Petersburg coach, still has two years left on his contract, but he held talks with Costacurta, who has been empowered by the Italian Olympic Committee to find and appoint a new coach, and Italy's team manager Gabriele Oriali at his residence in the city.
Costacurta recently met with Carlo Ancelotti, but insisted after the meeting that the job had not been discussed since Ancelotti is still under contract at Bayern Munich.
Mancini is in a similar situation, but with two games of the Russian Premier League season remaining, it is looking increasingly likely that he will be released from his contract. That would allow him to take charge of Italy before the May 20 deadline Costacurta had set to name a successor to Gian Piero Ventura, who was sacked in November after Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup.
"I've not spoken to anybody, although it would be an honour," Mancini told RAI radio on Monday afternoon. "For an Italian coach, being in charge of the Italy national team would be, I believe, a prestigious position and I would have to be proud.
"I'm at St Petersburg and I don't know the situation. I've read something, but honestly, I'm not up to speed with it all, so it's hard for me to comment on a something that I've just read in the papers."
Costacurta has insisted that a new coach would be in place ahead of Italy's summer friendlies against Saudi Arabia, France and Netherlands.
Their next competitive fixtures come in the autumn with the advent of the UEFA Nations League, with games against Poland and Portugal.
Italy last failed to qualify for a World Cup in 1958 and Mancini admitted it "will not be nice not seeing Italy at a World Cup" this summer.
"It's not going to be the same and we can only hope that the national team gets back to being among the best in the world," he said. "It's not nice for us who love football that we are lagging behind the others."
Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.