Mancini leaves Zenit ahead of expected Italy move
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — Roberto Mancini will leave his job as Zenit St. Petersburg coach on Monday ahead of an expected appointment with the Italian national team.
Zenit said in a statement Mancini is leaving “by mutual consent without any compensation payments” after a single, largely unsuccessful, season with the Russian club.
Mancini is expected to take over with Italy after the commissioner of the Italian football federation, Roberto Fabbricini, said earlier this month a move was agreed in principle but details still needed to be resolved.
Italy is trying to recover from the shock of failing to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in six decades.
If Mancini does take the job, it could signal a return to the national team for Mario Balotelli. Balotelli, who has not played for Italy since the 2014 World Cup, featured under Mancini at both Inter and City.
Negotiations with Mancini picked up after Carlo Ancelotti reportedly turned down the job.
Nantes coach Claudio Ranieri had been a secondary candidate.
The Italian federation has said it will announce a coach by May 20.
Italy next plays Saudi Arabia in a friendly May 28, ahead of games against France and the Netherlands.
Mancini, a former Italy player, has coached Fiorentina, Lazio, Inter Milan, Manchester City, and Galatasaray to titles.
His Zenit team finished the Russian Premier League season in fifth after beating relegated SKA Khabarovsk 6-0 on Sunday. That was a major disappointment for a team that had spent big to sign five Argentinian players including Leandro Paredes last summer and was expected to fight for the title.
Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri is a possible replacement at Zenit for Mancini, the Russian club’s deputy sporting director Vyacheslav Malafeev told Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency. Former Zenit player Sergei Semak is also in the running after coaching FC Ufa to a surprise sixth-place finish in the Russian league, Malafeev added.