Struggling Italian giants AC Milan tried and failed to bring exalted former coach Carlo Ancelotti back to the club last summer, but could he make a return in January?
It was thought the ex-Parma and Juventus boss was set to take a 12-month sabbatical from football after leaving Real Madrid in June.
The man who delivered ‘La Decima’ – a fabled tenth Champions League trophy - to Real in 2014 found himself surplus to requirements after just two seasons in charge at the Bernabeu.
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Former employers AC Milan, with whom he achieved legendary status after nearly eight years at the helm, made concerted efforts to bring the well-travelled 56-year-old back to northern Italy, but to no avail.
However, widespread speculation suggests that Ancelotti may cut short his break from the game as early as this winter.
He has been linked with almost every big job possible since he left the Spanish capital – potential posts at AS Roma, Liverpool and Bayern Munich have been mentioned recently – so time is of the essence should Berlusconi and company opt to make another push.
Having spurned AC Milan’s persistent advances, Ancelotti took on a watching brief, while vice-president Adriano Galliani appointed Sampdoria supremo Sinisa Mihajlovic instead.
A ponderous start to the Serie A campaign, littered with several poor displays, has left the Serbian tactician under severe pressure from fans and media alike.
Football Italia claims that La Gazzetta dello Sport recently reported that Rossoneri president Silvio Berlusconi wants Mihajlovic out, with the Milanese outfit languishing in mid-table, while he is said to have asked Galliani: “When will you send this one away?” in a dinner meeting conversation about his beleaguered head coach.
Berlusconi since made a first visit of the season to training, prior to AC Milan’s home win against Sassuolo, during which he publicly expressed faith in the current boss.
However, it’s likely that his appearance at Milanello has been prompted by growing concern over the squad’s continued struggles, and may yet signal a change in the dug-out if matters don’t improve.
Ancelotti is one of the world’s most decorated coaches, and an enviable record cultivated at AC Milan throughout a wonderful first stint surely catapults his name to the top of the celebrated club’s shortlist, should they dispense of Mihajlovic’s services.
The team he constructed at Milan included such luminaries as Filippo Inzaghi, Andrea Pirlo and Andriy Shevchenko, with Diavolo fans of today yearning for a resumption of those glory days when their beloved outfit boasted a whole host of Europe’s finest players.
Eight major honours were snared during that halcyon period under Ancelotti, including one Scudetto and two Champions League titles.
He went on to claim the English Premier League at Chelsea, plus a Ligue 1 crown in France with big-spenders Paris Saint-Germain, prior to pitching up at Real Madrid.
It would prove difficult for Ancelotti to inspire a sudden upturn in fortunes over the short-term despite his credentials, but he remains passionate and young enough to undertake a long-term project at his former club, that would undoubtedly offer AC Milan the brightest possible hope of repeating previous successes within the next few years.
And, with the ongoing saga concerning Thai businessman Bee Taechaubol’s significant investment in the club rumoured to be heading for a satisfactory conclusion, there is probably no better time for a new man with fresh ideas to take control ahead of the upcoming transfer window.
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