Premier League ready for Spalletti arrival

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Chelsea's dismissal of Andre Villas-Boas on Sunday could spark a game of managerial 'musical chairs' this summer.

If reports are to be believed, one man who could be about to prosper from the sweeping changes that have been predicted in England, Spain and Italy, is Zenit St Petersburg coach Luciano Spalletti.

The 52-year-old may have just been knocked out of the Champions League with his reigning Russian champions at the expense of Benfica, but the Italian tactician is still widely regarded as one of Europe's brightest up-and-coming managers.

Spalletti is one of the most innovative coaches in the game - his penchant for producing exciting football with a desire to build and maintain a side that is as entertaining as it is successful - making him worthy of a top job in European football.

His playing career was comparatively modest, as Spalletti spent the majority of his time plying his trade in Italy's Serie C, first with Entella, then Spezia, Viareggio and finally Empoli.

It was in Tuscany that Spalletti hung up his boots in favour of embarking on a coaching career, first taking temporary charge of Empoli on a caretaker basis in 1994. After a solitary campaign as youth team boss, he was promoted to first-team manager in 1995, and led the seasonal strugglers to two consecutive promotions from Serie C1 to Serie A.

Short spells at Sampdoria and Venezia followed, before a move to Udinese - the club where Spalletti really began to make his mark in management, and in 2004-05 he guided the Bianconeri to a sensational fourth-placed finish in the Italian top-flight, exceeding expectations and qualifying for the Champions League for the first time in the club's history.

His overwhelming success at an ordinary club with such limited resources attracted the attention of Roma. The capital side had a disappointing season after finishing eighth in Serie A, with four different coaches having spells in charge at Stadio Olimpico that year.

Spalletti was tasked with reinvigorating an under-performing, and equally chaotic side, in an attempt to restore order in the Eternal City. However, he endured a pretty inauspicious start to his career with the Giallorossi, until he introduced a revolutionary 'striker-less' system, midway through the 2005-06 campaign.

The 4-6-0 formation - which was essentially a 4-2-3-1 system but with a trequartista - in this case Roma captain Francesco Totti deployed in the sole striking role with a winger either side, completely changed the club's fortunes.

The results were nothing short of spectacular, as Roma embarked on a record-breaking 11-game winning streak which would eventually see them finish fifth, and help turn them into genuine Scudetto contenders the following year.

With Totti relishing his new found freedom, Spalletti's side drew numerous plaudits for their exciting style of free-flowing, attack-minded football, which played no small part in earning their manager the 'Panchina d'oro' or, the Golden Bench award to bring a memorable end to 2006 for club and coach that year.

The following campaign saw similar progression, as Roma finished Serie A runners-up in a season best remembered for the club's Coppa Italia success over eventual league champions Inter Milan - Roma's stunning 6-2 first leg victory perhaps the finest exhibition of Spalletti's footballing philosophy to date.

The Giallorossi retained their Coppa Italia crown with another final success over Inter in 2007-08, but after failing to usurp the Nerazzurri in the race for the Scudetto, it became quickly apparent that Roma were a fading force in Italy.

They only managed to qualify for the Europa League the following season, and after opening the 2009-10 campaign with back-to-back defeats, Spalletti decided to resign on 1 September 2009.

Despite not having worked in Serie A in over two years, the Italian's reputation back in his homeland has never been higher, after guiding Zenit to the Russian title in 2010 and into the last 16 of this season's Champions League.

With reports linking Spalletti with a job at his former arch-rivals, as Claudio Ranieri's San Siro stay looks set to come to a rather abrupt end, it is equally conceivable that one of Europe's most wanted managers could arrive in another top league next season.

Real Madrid or Barcelona may well have a vacancy this summer, with Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola's respective futures attracting much speculation, while Premier League sides Tottenham and Chelsea could prove attractive propositions for a coach who has all the attributes to succeed in the Premier League.

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