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Italy still keen on Conte reunion

 By Ben Gladwell

Rossi backs Antonio Conte for Italy job

Carlo Tavecchio has been elected as president of Italy's Football Association, despite recent accusations of racism.

Giuseppe Rossi has approved the potential appointment of Antonio Conte as Italy coach as negotiations with the former Juventus boss continue.

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Conte is one of four candidates to succeed Cesare Prandelli as Azzurri coach, with an announcement expected by next Monday at the latest.

The only remaining stumbling block to the appointment of somebody who would become the first Italy boss to hail from south of Rome -- Conte was born in Lecce -- appears to have been surpassed with the aid of a sponsor.

According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, over half of Conte's wages would be paid by an external backer, allowing the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) to stick within its own budget limitations while still getting a primary target.

If Conte is appointed, that would be good news for Rossi, who was left out of the World Cup by Prandelli.

"He seems to be a great candidate to me," Rossi told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "We all know what he has done with Juventus and the scudetti do all the talking for him. 

"Conte is able to get the best out of every single player. He's a winner and this is very important."

Conte won the Serie A title in each of his three seasons in charge of Juventus, giving him the right credentials to revive Italy's fortunes following a dismal World Cup.

He was also one of the league's best-paid coaches, though, and this may have priced him out of the market.

Prandelli received a salary of 3.2 million euros per annum and the FIGC is reluctant to spend any more than that amount. Conte, by comparison, was earning closer to 5.5 million euros per annum with Juve.

To bridge that gap, a sponsor -- reported to be Italy's kit and equipment provider Puma -- could be asked to make a contribution of approximately two million euros.

New FIGC president Carlo Tavecchio is waiting to hear back from the potential sponsor before furthering the preliminary talks he has already held with Conte earlier this week.

A two-year contract, through to the end of Euro 2016, would then be offered in time for Italy's first qualifying match against Norway on Sept. 9.


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