Serie A's coaching rumour mill grinds into action

MILAN (Reuters) - Serie A's coaching rumour mill has ground into action in the last few days even with the current season's title still up for grabs and the battle for European places hotting up.

Will Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri be lured to the Premier League or even Barcelona next season? Is journeyman coach Stefano Pioli really the right man for Inter Milan? Will Luciano Spalletti leave AS Roma at the end the season? Are coaches such as Roberto Mancini and Claudio Ranieri set for a Serie A return?

The biggest doubts concern Spalletti, after Roma's cup elimination at the hands of neighbours Lazio on Tuesday, and Pioli after Monday's home league defeat by Sampdoria.

Spalletti had already said that he would reconsider his future if Roma did not win silverware this season and they now need to make up a six-point gap on leaders Juventus in Serie A for that to happen.

"I have my destiny in my own hands, nobody else, and it depends only on me," the shaven-headed coach said after Roma beat Lazio 3-2 on Tuesday but lost their Coppa Italia semi-final 4-3 on aggregate.

"We keep saying we have to win, we are strong, but if we don't win then someone has to take responsibility," added Spalletti, whose side visit Bologna on Sunday.

Pioli, meanwhile, has rescued Inter from a disastrous start to the season since replacing Frank de Boer in October to become their ninth coach in the last six years.

A run of wins lifted Inter up the table but Monday's defeat at San Siro has virtually ended their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League next season.

Italian media now believe that the club's Chinese owners will want a more renowned name for next season, such as Atletico Madrid's Diego Simeone or Sevilla's Jorge Sampaoli, than the former central defender.

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri, on the other hand, is now starting to look too big for Serie A - which lives in the shadows of the Premier League and La Liga - and has been mentioned as a possible replacement should Arsene Wenger not stay at Arsenal.

Allegri himself, however, suggested there was little reason to leave the Serie A titleholders, who are still chasing a league, cup and Champions League treble, and host Chievo on Saturday.

"I would like to continue because I'm fine here," he said. "I haven't spoken to the club yet but there are few clubs around equal to or better than Juventus."

(Writing by Brian Homewood; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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