Italy are in the middle of their preparations for the 2014 World Cup, but team officials are already keeping an eye on the future beyond next month's football extravaganza. As shared by Football Italia, manager Cesare Prandelli told reporters he has signed a new deal with the Azzurri that will keep the former Fiorentina manager in charge until 2016:
Italy Coach Cesare Prandelli tells reporters today: "I have just signed until 2016"— footballitalia (@footballitalia) May 26, 2014
Football Italia reported earlier in the day that FIGC chief Giancarlo Abete was confident a renewal was imminent, as he told reporters:
The pen has always been available to sign the renewal, today more so than ever.
The day is long, we expect the situation to resolve peacefully and positively. You journalists are here, you have a lot of appointments today - I will talk with Cesare, but as he has said there are no problems for him signing.
How have I found Prandelli? I have found him very motivated, we talked about last week at the end of the retreat.
Prandelli took over the managerial duties from Marcello Lippi following Italy's disastrous 2010 World Cup, a tournament that saw the team fall at the very first hurdle and fail to progress from the group stages.
The skilled motivator was tasked with infusing youth into an aging team built around players who had won the 2006 World Cup in Germany, and the Azzurri surprised everyone at Euro 2012, defeating England and Germany on their way to a loss against Spain in the final.
Prandelli's work with the troubled Mario Balotelli in particular has been impressive, and the forward's importance of the team led many journalists to believe the experienced manager would receive the opportunity to continue managing the team beyond the 2014 World Cup, irrelevant of Italy's results there.
The manager has a natural charm that is well-liked by fans and reporters, and as shared by beIN Sports' Tancredi Palmeri, Prandelli joked with the media by blaming the contract renewal for his being late to a press conference:
Ahah Prandelli shows up in presser and says: "I apologize for being in late, but actually I was literally signing the contract"— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) May 26, 2014
Goal.com's Kris Voakes was very pleased with the news of Prandelli's contract extension:
The 2014 World Cup may be Prandelli's biggest challenge yet, but the Italian has shown himself to be an excellent tactician who isn't afraid to take risks, as we saw when he incorporated Juventus' back-three into the national team ahead of their match against Spain.
Expectations will be high in Brazil, and a difficult group containing England, Uruguay and Costa Rica could prove to be a real challenge for the Squadra.
But with the new contract now out of the way, Prandelli and his squad will have one less thing to worry about as they prepare for their opening match against England. The FIGC clearly likes the course the team is on, and Prandelli will now get the opportunity to continue working on a project he started in 2010.