Mancini's Italy head coach appointment paves way for Balotelli return
ROME, Italy – Roberto Mancini's first national squad will be eagerly awaited and is expected to see the return of Nice forward Mario Balotelli, who he coached at Inter Milan and Manchester City.
Balotelli has not played for Italy since the 2014 World Cup.
Mancini will hold his first press conference on Tuesday, May 15, a day after being handed his "dream" job as Italy head coach with the task of reviving Azzurri fortunes 6 months after their shock failure to qualify for the World Cup.
Italy have been without a permanent coach since Gian Piero Ventura was sacked after the 4-time world champions failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958.
The new head coach will meet the media for the first time as Italy boss at 12:00 (1000GMT) at the national team's training centre at Coverciano near Florence.
"Roberto is the new coach of Italy, it's done," Italian FA commissioner Roberto Fabbricini declared after Mancini signed his new deal in Rome on Monday night.
"There is satisfaction, also on the part of Mancini – his enthusiasm was decisive in the choice.
"Roberto had a great desire to sit on the Azzurri bench, he proved that in a concrete way."
The two-year contract reportedly worth two million euros ($2.3 million) a year will see Mancini lead Italy to Euro 2020 with the option to extend until June 2022 before the World Cup in Qatar.
The Italian federation had been looking for a prestigious coach to rebuild an Azzurri side decimated after their play-off defeat to Sweden in the San Siro last November.
The names of former Bayern Munich coach Carlo Ancelotti and Chelsea boss Antonio Conte had also been touted, with Ancelotti reported to have said "no".
Mancini had shown an early interest in taking over the national side and was ready to sever his lucrative contract with Zenit Saint Petersburg.
He will give up a reported 13 million euros in wages over the two remaining years on his Zenit contract to do national service.
After his 3-year contract with the Russian club was officially terminated by mutual consent on Sunday, Mancini flew immediately to Rome on Monday morning declaring at the airport he was "happy to be back in Italy".
He signed his new deal later in the day.
His task will be to rebuild and qualify Italy for the 2020 European Championships, with his first match in charge a friendly on May 28 against Saudi Arabia in Switzerland.
"It went the way we wanted, we are happy and Roberto is happy," Fabbricini told journalists.
"We'll explain everything about the contract tomorrow (Tuesday), he's very happy and so are we."
He will also prepare Italy for a friendly against France on June 1 in Turin which could be the final international game for goalkeeping legend Gianluigi Buffon.
In Mancini, Italy has a coach with a solid track record as a title-winner with 13 trophies in club football.
He led Manchester City to their first English league title in 44 years in 2012, and won 3 Serie A titles with Inter Milan. He also won Italian Cups with Inter, Fiorentina and Lazio.
Since leaving England in 2013, Mancini also managed Galatasaray, who he lead to a Turkish Cup title, and Inter Milan before joining Zenit in June 2017.
Zenit finished 5th in the Russian Premier League, failing to qualify for the Champions League but qualifying for the Europa League.
Mancini, a former Lazio and Sampdoria forward, had said coaching the national side would be "extraordinary" and would fulfil his dream of winning the World Cup.
He never became a regular with Italy having a love-hate relationship with the national side during his 10-year international playing career, during which he won 36 caps and scored 4 goals.
He reached the semi-finals of Euro 1988, and was in the squad that finished 3rd in the 1990 World Cup on home soil.
Luigi di Biagio had stepped up from the Under-21s to take interim charge of the senior national side but will now make way for Mancini. – Rappler.com