The Premier League could be set for a double dose of Italy after Roberto Mancini claimed he had been offered the chance to manage Sunderland.
With Carlo Ancelotti almost certain to be named as the new boss of Chelsea after leaving AC Milan, it means there could be two Italians in the English top flight next season.
The 44-year-old former Italy forward, without a job since leaving Inter Milan a year ago, said he was excited at the prospect of managing Sunderland.
Mancini told Sky Italia: "I am honoured to have had an offer from Sunderland Football Club. It is a fantastic opportunity.
"It will be truly wonderful to lead such a prestigious and historic club in England after a year of sitting on the sidelines.
"I feel I am ready to start again with immense enthusiasm.''
However, his agent appeared to pour cold water on the report on Sunday evening. Giorgio De Giorgis said: "Mancini is aware of those reports. But we have not received an offer, nor have we been in touch with anyone from Sunderland.''
De Giorgis confirmed there was interest in his client from England but that no formal offer had yet been put to the 44-year-old.
"There has been interest from English teams but Sunderland is not one of them,'' he said. "However, no official offers have been made.''
It was thought Steve Bruce was a certainty for the job after Wigan Athletic allowed him to speak to the Stadium of Light club. But the Latics' demand for £3m in compensation may have put them off with Mancini unattached.
There has been no confirmation of the deal from Wearside, but appointing Mancini would fit in with the club's desire to appoint a high profile figure following Ricky Sbragia's decision to revert to the backroom staff after securing the club's Premier League place.
Ellis Short, who recently bought out Niall Quinn's consortium to assume complete control of the club, has great ambitions for Sunderland. It is likely that Mancini would be handed a sizeable transfer kitty to pull the club into contention away from the bottom three.
Mancini has only limited experience of English football, having had a brief playing stint with Leicester in 2001 before going into full-time coaching.
Before joining Leicester he had a spell as player/assistant manager with Lazio, under Sven-Goran Eriksson, and later had spells as manager of Fiorentina and Lazio prior to joining Inter in 2004.