Prandelli cleared for Italy job

Fiorentina will not stand in Cesare Prandelli’s way if he

decides to accept an offer to coach Italy.

Prandelli is under contract with Fiorentina for a further year

but has an offer from the Italian football federation to replace

Marcello Lippi as national team coach after the World Cup.

“We saw our future with Prandelli,” Fiorentina vice-president

Mario Cognigni told the club’s official website.

“Then last Wednesday (Italian football federation president

Giancarlo) Abete called (Fiorentina president) Andrea Della

Valle…

“Once we got the call, it was very difficult but we gave our

okay.

“Neither the club nor the coach had had prior contract with the

federation until then.

“It would not have been fair to say no to him for two reasons.

First, it is a sign of respect towards our highest football body.

Secondly, the gratitude we feel towards Cesare.

“To coach Italy is everyone’s dream. You cannot deny a coach

that choice or tell them not to consider such a prestigious

offer.

“We gave him the choice with absolute calmness of either

accepting the national team offer or continue with our project.

“Prandelli is confused but happy with the offer he has

received.”

Giving Prandelli the choice of whether to stay or depart was not

an easy decision for Fiorentina executives, considering the impact

the coach has made since arriving from Roma in summer 2005.

He transformed the ‘Viola’ from relegation strugglers into a

team worthy of a Champions League spot in his first season in

charge.

Despite the 15-point deduction handed to Fiorentina for the

match-fixing scandal, Prandelli was able to guide the team to a

sixth-place finish in Serie A in 2007.

The following year, Prandelli steered Fiorentina to a

fourth-place finish and qualification for the Champions League

group stages.

After the departure of Carlo Ancelotti from AC Milan to Chelsea

last summer, Prandelli became the longest serving manager in Serie

A.

“We will miss him a lot,” said Cognigni.

“A place in the presidents’ box at the Franchi Stadium will

always be available to him.

“I don’t want to say goodbye to Cesare, only arriverderci.

“I hope he wins a World Cup and then returns to us after four

years.

“We will wait for him.”

Abete confirmed this week that he will announce Lippi’s

successor before Italy travel to South Africa on June 6.

Fiorentina are expected to confirm Serbian coach Sinisa

Mihajlovic as Prandelli’s replacement.

Mihajlovic parted company with Catania earlier this week.