Speculation is rife that Italy could turn to Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini after Euro 2012 if current boss Cesare Prandelli leaves his post after the tournament.
Prandelli has a contract with the Azzurri until the end of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but reports of discontent in the camp have led to claims that the former Fiorentina boss could be leaving sooner than expected.
His exit could open the door to a move for Mancini, who has just 12-months left on his current contract with the Citizens after guiding them to their first Premier League title – at the expense of arch-rivals Manchester United – last season.
The Italian also lifted the FA Cup at the end of the 2010/11 season, but after opening negotiations over a new deal with the club’s Abu Dhabi-based owners, a contract extension was not signed.
It opens the door for the 47-year-old to leave the Etihad Stadium, and realistically the national team job in Italy is one of the few jobs that could entice Mancini away from the riches available at City.
Having won three Serie ‘A’ titles with Inter Milan, Mancini’s reputation is at an all-time high, and he appears the obvious candidate if Prandelli fails in Poland & Ukraine.
“I have a contract with the Federation until 2014 and intend to respect it,” said the ex-Viola chief.
“I really want to go forward, even though I know very well that all the coaches, even the national team, are tied to results.”
Progression won’t be easy in Group C though, with Spain, Republic of Ireland and Croatia all fighting for just two qualification spots.