MILAN, Italy, Feb 4 – Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has ruled himself out as Italy coach but interim boss Luigi Di Biagio could be an option, Italian football federation (FIGC) assistant commissioner Alessandro Costacurta said Sunday.
Former AC Milan star Costacurta has been given the task of finding a replacement for Gian Piero Ventura who was sacked after Italy’s embarrassing World Cup exit.
“Antonio Conte has pulled out,” Costacurta said, adding that Italy Under-21 coach Di Biagio, in charge for friendlies against Argentina and England next month, could be handed more than just an interim role.
“We all have this ardour to enact a revolution and do something wonderful for Italian football, but clearly there’s a lot of work to do,” Costacurta told Sky Sport Italia.
“A new Italy coach is fundamental, but many forget that there are several options who are under contract, so it’s difficult to really talk about it right now.
“As Conte reiterated the other day, he wants to continue working as a coach on a day-by-day basis at club level for at least the next 18 months, the length of his Chelsea contract, so he has pulled out of the running.
“There are others who are more or less available. For example, Roberto Mancini is under contract with Zenit. We’d have to work out who can be approached and who can’t.”
Former Italy midfielder Di Biagio, 46, who played for Roma, Inter Milan and Lazio during his career, is seen as an outsider among a star line-up of names being linked with the job including Mancini, Conte, Claudio Ranieri and Carlo Ancelotti.
“It’s not such an outlandish idea. I’ve been following Di Biagio’s progress for a few years, he took Italy to the European Under-21 Championship and made some really inspired choices,” said Costacurta.
“If nothing happens in the meantime, the new national coach will be announced in June.”
Gareth Southgate went from England Under-21 manager to interim senior coach before being handed the job full-time.
“Southgate went along this path and it happens quite often. Di Biagio knows the talents who are in Italy.”