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Former coach of the Russian Zenit Roberto Mancini took charge of the national team of Italy.

Roberto Mancini is to leave Zenit St Petersburg after the two parties mutually agreed to terminate the Italian coach's contract, the Russian club have announced.

The departure means Mancini, who was appointed Zenit's head coach this season, becomes the top contender to coach Italy, which is rebuilding after failing to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, reports Efe.

The new coach's first press conference will be held on Tuesday at noon local time (6pm Singapore time) at the national team's training centre at Coverciano near Florence.

"We'll explain everything about the contract tomorrow, he's very happy and so are we".

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Mancini's appointment is likely to see the return of Mario Balotelli to the national team. Four-time World Cup winners Italy missed out on this summer's World Cup after losing to Sweden in the play-offs.

He began his coaching career with Fiorentina in 2001 and won the Coppa Italia in his first season even though the club was plagued by financial problems.

Since leaving Etihad Stadium in 2013, Mancini also managed Galatasaray and Inter Milan before joining Zenit in June 2017. They were eliminated in the group stage at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, although they have done better at the European Championship, reaching the final in 2012 and the quarter-finals in 2016.

Luigi Di Biagio had been in interim charge of the senior side during the hunt for a long-term successor, with Carlo Ancelotti and Chelsea boss Antonio Conte among the other leading candidates.