Nantes (France) (AFP) – With results slipping and the club only grudgingly denying rumours of a divorce, the love affair between French club Nantes and Claudio Ranieri appears to be fading.
The Italian coach was unhappy with questions about his future at the press conference on Thursday ahead of Saturday’s French league match against Monaco.
“What do I need to clarify?” Ranieri stormed. “If you say I’m going there or there or there, produce the contract! Next year, I have a contract here. What more can I say?”
While uncertainty has begun to grow over Ranieri’s future at Nantes, it also hovers over a more glamorous position that might attract him: coach of the Italian national team.
Back in February, Ranieri said on Italian television: “If I was approached about the Italy job, I would go and see the president of Nantes and ask him to release me.”
The Italian has also been linked to positions at Nice and Lyon that could become vacant before next season.
Later on Thursday, club president Waldemar Kita did not display great enthusiasm for keeping Ranieri.
“I’m not someone who puts the brakes on the professional ambitions of my employees, so I’m not going to do it,” Kita said.
Nantes recruited Ranieri in a hurry last June and signed him to a contract that reflected his past successes but was extremely high for a club of their means.
This season, Nantes have been hyper-defensive and struggled to score goals, hitting just 30 in 31 league games.
Last Sunday’s 3-0 home loss to Saint-Etienne dropped the Canaries to eighth in Ligue 1, two points behind fifth-place Rennes in the last Europa League spot. Montpellier are sixth and Nice seventh.
Asked if European football was slipping away, Ranieri showed less fire as he answered: “Perhaps. There are now a lot of clubs ahead of us.”
“For the moment, I’m still in the job and I want to think positive, fight and motivate my players,” Ranieri said. “After that, we will see.”