Luciano Spalletti was appointed Italy’s national team coach on Friday, just three months after he left Napoli because he needed a break.
Spalletti will replace Roberto Mancini, who surprisingly resigned on Sunday after a period of ups and downs that also included winning the 2021 European title and a KO defeat the following year that ruled out the Azzurri for the second time in a row .
With an attacking tactic that drew praise across Europe when he led Napoli to their first Serie A title in more than three decades last season, Spalletti was the favorite for the job. The Italian Football Federation announced that the parties had reached an agreement.
According to the federation, Spalletti will take up his new position on September 1 before playing the knockout stage matches of Euro 2024 against North Macedonia and Ukraine on September 9 and 12 respectively.
How long the 64-year-old’s contract lasts has not been revealed, but the Italian press reported that the deal covers the 2026 World Cup in the United States, Mexico and Canada.
“We welcome Spalletti,” said association president Gabriele Gravina. “The national team needed a great coach and I am delighted that he has taken on the role of coaching the Azzurri.”
“His enthusiasm and skill will be instrumental in the challenges that await Italy in the coming months.”
The association added in its brief statement that Spalletti’s official presentation will take place at the team’s next meeting for the upcoming qualifiers.
Spalletti ceded the reins at Napoli after leading them to their first league title in 33 years. He said at the time he was taking time off, adding that he was ready to lead the team after a year’s absence.
Mancini’s resignation opened up the opportunity sooner than expected.
But when Spalletti left Napoli, he signed a document that included a 3 million euro ($3.3 million) clause that would have to be paid if he returned to work before the year.
Lawyers for the federation say the clause only applies to clubs that are Napoli’s rivals. But team president Aurelio De Laurentiis remains adamant the same applies to the national team.
“I have asked for guarantees that (Spalletti) would respect the sabbatical, including a penalty if he fails to honor his commitment,” De Laurentiis said in a recent statement. “The federation should not be discouraged by having to pay €1m a year on behalf of the manager to release him from his contractual obligations (an obligation not only to Napoli but also to the millions of fans). That’s inconsistent.”
“I admit that the three million euros is not much for Napoli and even less for me, but in this case it’s not about ‘money’, it’s a question of principle.”