Zenit Saint-Petersburg coach Roberto Mancini said he was open to taking over the vacant job as Italy national football coach.
Mancini, 53, is being touted along with Chelsea manager Antonio Conte and former Bayern Munich coach Carlo Ancelotti to take the reins of the demoralised four-time World Cup winners.
Giampiero Ventura was fired as coach last November days after Italy’s shock failure to reach the World Cup final for the first time in 60 years.
Finding Ventura’s successor has been complicated because the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) has to elect a president to replace Carlo Tavecchio who was also forced to resign.
“Before choosing a new coach it seems to me that we have to choose a new FIGC president,” former Manchester City and Inter Milan boss Mancini told Italian talk show “Tiki Taka”.
“But I absolutely don’t rule out Italy, like the other coaches I think. When you’re a coach you can rule nothing out.”
Former Chelsea, Real Madrid, Juventus and AC Milan boss Ancelotti — a three-time Champions League winner — had been Tavecchio’s choice.
But the 56-year-old, free since his sacking by Bayern Munich in 2017, has said he would prefer to stay in club management.
Former Juventus boss Conte, 48, coached Italy from 2014 before joining Chelsea in 2016, winning the Premier League in his first season.
Conte revealed last year that he misses Italy and plans to return to his homeland in the near future.
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“Italy is my homeland, so once I have had some good experiences, formative experiences, important and life- changing experiences, I’ll be back. I don’t know when but that’s the aim,” he said in September.
The FIGC yesterday agreed their budget for 2018 and have set aside €5 million ($5.6 m) to pay the new coach, despite a projected deficit of €9 million for the year, according to press reports.
Three candidates have their hat in the ring for FIGC presidency — former Italy and Roma star Damiano Tommasi, now head of the Italian Players’ Union; Italian Professional League president Gabriele Gravina and FIGC vice-president Cosimo Sibilia.
The election for president will take place on January 29.