Decision on future expected this week after Spain friendly on Wednesday night.
With speculation rife over his future beyond the World Cup, Italy coach Cesare Prandelli would have a vital role to play in the development of the Azzurri were he to stay.
Since his appointment back in 2010, the former Fiorentina coach has overseen a gradual improvement in the squad, as he has not only strived to change the style of play but also to introduce various new younger players into the fold.
Italy have often been complimented by their opponents in recent years for their more expansive football, while the average age of the squad has undoubtedly lowered since Prandelli arrived as Marcello Lippi’s successor.
Nevertheless, having taken the Azzurri to the final of Euro 2012 which preceded a respectable third-place finish at the Confederations Cup last summer, the FIGC face an anxious wait as Prandelli makes the decision over whether or not he will extend his stay or seek a new challenge.
The 56-year-old has restored pride in the national team after their previous struggles, and although he has received recent criticism for his ‘code of ethics’, he is widely respected and importantly has ideologies that will only further benefit the national team moving forward.
Last month, La Gazzetta dello Sport ran a story on their front-page which suggested that a four-year renewal was close, and that the announcement would be made at some stage after Wednesday night’s friendly.
In addition, it reported that Prandelli would be granted the power to shape the youth set-up with new training centres and improvements at club level, with his increased role in the structural reorganisation becoming a key aspect of the bid to persuade him to continue.
With just over three months remaining until the start of the World Cup in Brazil, assurances over his future will be a welcome boost for all concerned, as Prandelli has demonstrated already that the national team is in safe hands with the players regularly praising him for his management skills.
Were he to leave his post, the decision on his replacement would arguably be one of the toughest that the FIGC has ever faced as they must identify an individual capable of continuing the work that the current coach has done during his tenure.
Nevertheless, all eyes will be on the Calderon on Wednesday night as two of Europe’s most celebrated nations face each other in what is much more than just a mere friendly.
Key faces will be missing in the form of Mario Balotelli and Giuseppe Rossi who are expected to be the ideal partnership up front depending on fitness, while there is a hesitancy to use the preferred system against a rival that Italy could well face at some point this summer provided they advance beyond the group stage.
The fixture provides Prandelli with an opportunity to experiment and tinker with his systems ahead of the competitive matches that lie ahead, but it is generally hoped that there will be no need to tinker in the aftermath of Brazil as he will look to continue to shape the future of Italian football and oversee its development for another four years.