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Gnoukouri a rising star at Inter

Inter Milan
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Ukraine hint at Lippi appointment

The Ukrainian Football Federation (FFU) is believed to be keen to secure the services of former Italy coach Marcello Lippi to lead the national team at the 2012 European Championship.

Lippi, 62, guided Italy to glory at the 2006 World Cup but failed miserably to repeat the feat this summer, as the Azzurri crashed out of the finals in South Africa after finishing bottom of their group, behind minnows Slovakia, Paraguay and minnows New Zealand.

The former Juventus and Inter boss has been out of work since leaving his post with Italy in July, but has been heavily linked with a return to management, with Roma and Dubai-based Al-Ahli both reportedly interested in him.

But Euro 2012 co-hosts Ukraine are believed to be in pole position to snap him up, after Lippi was pictured with FFU president Grygori Surkis at a recent friendly in Geneva.

And Surkis has done little to dampen the speculation, after he was gushing in his praise of Lippi in a recent interview.

"Lippi is unique in the world," Surkis is quoted as saying in La Gazzetta dello Sport. "He is an excellent coach.

"[But] There is nothing new to report and I can't add anything else. He is not the coach of Ukraine."

Asked if Lippi would be taking over as Ukraine coach in the future, Surkis cryptically replied: "Never say never."

Reports in Italy suggest that Lippi has signed a pre-contract agreement, although he is believed to be holding out for more than the proposed &euro5 million over 18 months.

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