Former Chelsea fans’ favourite Gianfranco Zola has emerged as a surprise, last-minute candidate to replace sacked Inter Milan coach Frank De Boer, reports suggested Saturday.
De Boer’s sacking after a 1-0 defeat at Sampdoria last week has plunged the San Siro giants into crisis just 11 games into the season.
Newspaper reports on Saturday morning insisted Marcelino Garcia Toral, who led Villarreal to a fourth place finish in La Liga last season before being sacked in August, was the frontrunner ahead of ex-Lazio boss Stefano Pioli after both were interviewed by the club’s Chinese owners Suning on Friday.
But a Sky Sport Italia television report claims Zola has come into contention because “he has close contact with the club’s Chinese owners Suning”.
Zola has been out of work since being sacked as coach of Qatari side Al-Arabi.
Indeed, the former Chelsea star has struggled to emulate his achievements as a player on the other side of the touchlines.
Zola resigned as coach of Watford in December 2013 after a dismal start to the season.
Although he took over at Cagliari in Serie A in December 2014, he was sacked three months later, Cagliari re-hiring sacked Zdenek Zeman three months after sacking the veteran Czech.
Zola took over at Al-Arabi in July 2015, but was sacked after steering the side to only 10 wins in 26 games.
Reports on Saturday said Marcelino has demanded a three-year contract until 2019, and considerable decision-making powers at Inter.
Pioli, said Gazzetta’s report, was also interviewed for the job on Friday but has agreed to accept a two-year deal, until 2018.
Inter’s fifth reverse of the current Serie A campaign last week dropped the Nerazzurri to 12th place at 13 points behind leaders Juventus ahead of Sunday’s home game with basement side Crotone.
The club’s youth team coach Stefano Vecchi will take the helm for the second game in succession, following Thursday’s Europa League defeat to Southampton