Fabio Capello today stepped down as coach of Juventus to seemingly pave the way for a switch to Real Madrid.
Speculation has been rife for several weeks that Capello, who led Madrid to the Primera Liga title in the 1996/97 campaign, was becoming increasingly disgruntled with Juve’s off-field problems and had his heart set on a return to the Spanish capital.
And that possibility moved a step closer when the Turin club announced on their official website, www.juventus.com: “Juventus Football Club has accepted the resignation of Fabio Capello, in accordance with his wishes, and thanks him for the work that he has done.”
New Madrid president Ramon Calderon had made the appointment of Capello a key feature of his election manifesto and he has no doubts the Italian is bound for the Bernabeu.
Calderon said yesterday: “He [Capello] has gone to Turin to resolve his contractual situation with Juventus.
“He will be here in the next few days to begin his new work.
“We don’t have many days because the pre-season with all the players begins at the end of July ... Real Madrid will not have to pay a fee to get him.”
Capello’s decision to quit the Stadio delle Alpi and decamp to Madrid is unlikely to have taken long.
Juve are currently embroiled in a match-fixing trial, the prosecutor of which today recommended they be relegated to the third division (Serie C) and start the next campaign with a 15-point deduction.
The defence have yet to have their say and Juve may well be handed a more lenient sentence.
But it remains likely they will start the season outside Serie A, a situation which is bound to have repercussions with their playing staff, many of whom will not fancy the thought of trawling around the lower leagues.
But it is a scenario which will not now concern Capello.
Should he take over at Madrid, he will be faced with the task of overhauling an ageing squad which has been put firmly in the shadows by arch-rivals Barcelona in recent seasons.
Capello does have a track record of success though.
He led AC Milan to four Serie A crowns in five seasons in the 1990s and the Champions League title in 1994.
Following his short stint at Madrid, he made a trophy-less return to Milan but then regained the winning touch at Roma – guiding the Giallorossi to their first Scudetto in 18 years in 2001.
He then made an acrimonious move to Juve, helping the Bianconeri to two successive Serie A titles, although these may yet to be taken away should the club be found guilty of match-fixing.