Italian football federation (FIGC) chiefs confirmed talks had taken place with Carlo Ancelotti concerning the vacant Italy coaching job but insisted there was no front-runner yet.
Ancelotti, who was sacked by Bayern Munich last September, met with FIGC commissioner Roberto Fabbricini and sub-commissioner Alessandro Costacurta in a Rome hotel on Monday.
It was reported the 58-year-old has been offered a two-year contract, with the only sticking point financial terms which would be less lucrative than his previous deal with the German champions.
But Fabbricini insisted the meeting was not an official one.
"Ancelotti has a fairly serious family problem, and that's why he was in Rome," Fabbricini told Italian radio. "Costacurta, having a strong friendship with Ancelotti, met him and I also took part in that meeting.
"We talked about a future scenario, though, but we still have a coach [Luigi Di Biagio] under contract.
"I don't think a coach can a priori rule out a prestigious job like leading Italy. The Azzurri bench is always an objective for any coach. But of course there are other factors which affect the decision – the desire to work every day for example.
"No one is in pole, we want to respect the date of May 20th because the national team will play on May 28th [in a friendly against Saudi Arabia]."
Italy have been without a permanent coach since Gian Piero Ventura was sacked after they failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 60 years after losing to Sweden in a two-legged playoff in November.
Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP
Costacurta – who was coached by Ancelotti at AC Milan in the 1980s – was appointed to find a successor to Ventura and insisted the deadline remained May 20th.
Among the other names being touted are Zenit St Petersburg coach Roberto Mancini, Chelsea boss Antonio Conte and former Leicester coach Claudio Ranieri, now in charge of French club Nantes.
"Carlo was in Rome for personal reasons, the chosen hotel was the one where I always stay myself and we found ourselves there at the same time," Costacurta told Sky Sport Italia.
"We didn't talk about the Italy bench, we only joked about the opportunity, we could not talk about the programme and the financial part. We are loyal to the rules.
"If there will be an official meeting? Yes, but I still do not know when. We need people to make themselves available, we can't get close to contracted coaches."
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Ancelotti, who has also managed Chelsea, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Juventus, Roma and Paris Saint-Germain, has three Champions League titles to his name as a coach. He has also won the league in Italy, France, Germany and England.
The FIGC budget for a new coach and his staff is €5 million per year, which would be a big drop from the reported €12 million plus bonuses that Ancelotti earned at Bayern Munich. Ancelotti joined Bayern in 2016 and won the Bundesliga title in his first season, but has been out of football since he was sacked following a 3-0 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.
Costacurta was reported to have offered Ancelotti, who has also been linked with former club Chelsea and the soon-to-be-vacant manager's job at Arsenal, a free hand in choosing his staff.
Ancelotti's son Davide, who was his assistant at Bayern, could play a role as well as former stars such as Andrea Pirlo, Gianluigi Buffon and Paolo Maldini.
Italy's under-21 coach Luigi Di Biagio has been filling the position with the four-time world champions on an interim basis.
By Emmeline Moore