Roberto Mancini: The £35million manager

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Even for a man accustomed to extravagant wealth, Roberto Mancini's eyes must water when he hears the latest figures quoted for his salary.

Recent reports have suggested the Russian FA have offered the City boss £35million to manage the World Cup hosts through to 2018, but his Manchester employers have been quick to rebuff the story.

Conflicting reports now suggest the City boss has signed up for a pay rise and a new five-year deal at the Etihad Stadium - either way, Mancini is worth mega money.

These eye-watering figures are what happens when the world's richest people take a sudden interest in football. An oil-soaked scrap at the top of Russian football has led to a bitter tug-of-war as rival Russian tycoons bid to get their preferred candidate into the national team hotseat. The departure of Dick Advocaat has left the position vacant, and everybody seems to have an opinion on who should replace him.

Spartak Moscow's oil magnate owner Leonid Fedun wants Pep Guardiola, and has volunteered to personally finance his wages, while others push the case for Mancini, Germany's Joachim Low, Fabio Capello and Italy manager Cesare Prandelli.

The shortlist contains all the top names, as Russia look to take a shortcut to football's top table. This summer their national side, managed by Dutchman Dick Advocaat, showed signs of brilliance but crashed out at the group stages.

With Alan Dzagoev they have a future star in the making, but the Russian FA are inpatient for success now and Euro 2012 was an unmitigated disaster. In recent seasons, Russian domestic football has become synonymous with tycoon riches and mega pay-days for aging superstars.

The rise of Anzhi has coincided with local billionaire Suleyman Kerimov's takeover, and since the 2011 buyout, the Dagestan-based club have signed World Cup winner Roberto Carlos, Champions League winner Samuel Eto'o and Chelsea winger Yuri Zhirkov.

Never mind that Dagestan is a bitter war-torn Russian province, and the fact that Anzhi will play their European matches 2000 miles away in Moscow, the money on offer is more than enough to attract some of the game's most talented.

Eto'o's wages are reportedly the world's highest - around £300,00 per week according to reports - while Guus Hiddink has been drafted in as manager on a colossal pay packet.

Despite the cash, Anzhi could only finish eighth in last year's league campaign, as Zenit St Petersburg took home their third title. But the general standard of the league is improving noticeably. Zenit triumphed in the UEFA Cup in 2008, while the Russian Premier League sits seventh behind France's Ligue 1 in the UEFA National league table.

Like China now, Russian football has experienced the sudden jolt that extreme wealth brings. Whereas before, Russian oligarchs opted to park their cash in the sport's elite leagues - see Roman Abramovich at Chelsea - today's billionaires are increasingly looking to keep their money closer to home.

By investing in their national league they have inevitably raised its profile, and raised its standings by opening their wallets to tempt some of the world's best players.

In this regard, China and the American MLS still lag behind. They have the money, but their leagues remain the final resting place for the sport's aging superstars, players like Dider Drogba and Thierry Henry. In contrast, Anzhi boast Samuel Eto'o, who had only just turned 30 when he signed up for Russian football.

As the league has improved, so has the national team. A semi-final place at Euro 2008 was a highlight, and they looked a good bet to repeat the trick this summer before their spectacular collapse in Ukraine and Poland.

But is Mancini really the man to take them to the next level - and is he worth the money?

£35million over six years would make Mancini one of the world's highest paid managers, possibly only behind Hiddink, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho.

But his recent record suggests he's worth it. A Premier League title with Manchester City, as well as an FA Cup, comes after three consecutive Serie A titles with Inter Milan, during a spell in which he became Inter's most successful manager for 30 years.

At 47 years old, Mancini has one of the most impressive managerial resumes, and has proven himself adept at handling awkward bureaucratic problems, the likes of which any future Russia boss is likely to encounter. Only Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, at a comparable age, can reasonably point to more impressive trophy hauls.

Russian football is on the march, with the World Cup on home soil in six years time, the country will be desperate to put on a show on the pitch as much as off it. That is why it's so crucial to have a marquee manager in place - someone to give them the best possible chance of success on home soil. Of course, six years is a long stint, but it gives whoever comes in a chance to settle into the job.

Russia could do much worse than Mancini, but it's by no means certain that he would be willing to accept their offer. After all, who is one of the only people in the world capable of matching a Russian oligarch's contract offer?

An Abu Dhabi Sheikh.

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