Roma are keen on signing Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri, Goal has learned, after Antonio Conte turned down the offer of joining the struggling Serie A side to seek a side better equipped to challenge for major honours.
The former Blues tactician was ahead of the club's current boss on Roma's wishlist, but Giallorossi chiefs are keen on securing Sarri, whom they had hoped might be leaving London this summer after he was nearly sacked.
Indeed, Chelsea had spoken to former assistant coach and England boss Gareth Southgate's current deputy Steve Holland about the prospect of filling in at Stamford Bridge on a temporary basis.
Back in Rome, Claudio Ranieri was appointed as head coach until the end of the season following the departure of Eusebio Di Francesco, but he is ready to move aside should the club's main target become available.
Conte is currently out of a job and is targeting a return to a big club job this summer, but publicly stated to La Gazzetta dello Sport that he now has no interest in the dugout at the Stadio Olimpico.
“Today the conditions are not there but I think one day, sooner or later, I will go to coach Roma,” he said.
Roma advisor and former Tottenham technical director Franco Baldini is an acquaintance of Sarri's, with the pair having become close during negotiations between Napoli and Spurs for the signing of Vlad Chiriches.
However, it may take Chelsea pushing Sarri out of the door for Roma to get their man as the 60-year-old has publicly signalled his intention to stay and believes that he can help the club close the gap on Manchester City and Liverpool, who have raced ahead of all competition in the Premier League title race.
“English football is different,” Sarri told reporters at Cobham Training Centre just over a week ago. "I don't want to say better or worse, but it is different.
"The Premier League is wonderful. I want to remain in the Premier League and I want to remain at Chelsea because the level is very high.
"The atmosphere in the stadiums is really fantastic. It is a wonderful championship and I would like to remain here.”
Sarri has pleased his bosses by qualifying for the Champions League after beating Watford 2-0 at Stamford Bridge this weekend, although among much of the club's fanbase he remains a divisive figure, even as his side prepare for the second leg of the Europa League semi-final on Thursday.