Roberto Mancini may have won the Premier League just four years ago but now he appears set to continue his career some 5,000 miles away.
The Chinese Super League may be about to add another huge name to its already impressive roster of illustrious imports, with Sky Sports Italia reporting that Roberto Mancini is in talks to become the new manager of Hebei China Fortune.
The 51-year-old was dismissed by Inter Milan earlier this week in the aftermath of a 6-1 pre-season thrashing at the hands of Tottenham, with rumours circulating that Mancini was enduring a strained working relationship with the club’s new Chinese investors, the Suning Commerce Group.
However, the Italian, who led Manchester City to their first Premier League crown in 2012, could be set to join former Roma and Napoli favourites Gervinho (below) and Ezequiel Lavezzi at the club who currently rank fifth place in the Super League standings.
According to Sky Sports Italia, Hebei, who are currently coached by former Everton midfielder Li Tie, first approached Mancini three weeks ago but have now stepped up their pursuit of the three-time Serie A winning manager.
China, like the USA and the middle-east, had long been viewed as something of an opulent retirement home for former stars, but has begun to attract more players and managers in the prime of their careers in recent years.
For example, Graziano Pelle (below) had only recently cemented his place as Italy’s first choice centre-forward after spending years toiling in the lower leagues and abroad but risked sacrificing his international future by accepting Shandong Luneng’s reported £260,000-per-week pay packet.
Shakhtar Donetsk forward Alex Teixeira, meanwhile, joined Jiangsu Suning in January for a reported 50 million euros despite interest from both Liverpool and Chelsea, with Ramires, Jackson Martinez and, most recently Hulk also plying their trade in the Far East.
However, Mancini would still be a huge coup for a league more accustomed to managerial has-beens, such as Sven Goren Eriksson (below) and Luis Felipe Scolari, than bonafide top level coaches.