Italy are set to offer Antonio Conte a sensational return as national team head coach if I Azzurri don't qualify for - or perform badly at - the 2018 World Cup.
That is according to the Sun, who have alleged that the Chelsea manager is being lined up to take up the reins of the senior side less than 18 months after his departure.
Italy have wrapped up a play-off spot after finishing second in Group G behind Spain, but face a tough task to book their place in Russia next June given their poor displays in qualifying.
Current Italy boss Gian Piero Ventura is contracted to his position until June 2020 but, if he fails to lead his nation to the World Cup finals or doesn't fulfil the minimum criteria next summer, the Italian FA will cut short his tenure.
That could lead to a shock reunion with Conte, who led Italy to the quarter-final stage of Euro 2016 in France, before being eliminated by Germany after a penalty shootout, as talk over his return to his homeland continues to dominate the headlines.
The 48-year-old has spoken recently of his desire to head back to Italy in the near future - comments which have prompted concern from Chelsea's fanbase that their gaffer could up sticks as soon as next June.
Idk what the new manager is like but I'm still upset Antonio Conte ditched Italy for Chelsea - we were the perfect team... 😢— Jenny Ferry 🐭 (@jennyferry) October 9, 2017
Conte penned a new improved two-year deal at Stamford Bridge after he led the Blues to the Premier League title last season, but his frustration at the club's failure to land key targets in the summer window has led to rumours of him leaving west London soon.
Italy spluttered to a 1-1 draw against Macedonia on home soil on Friday before following that result up with an uninspiring 1-0 win over Albania on Monday evening, while the legendary Gianluigi Buffon has had to deny rumours of internal rifts in Ventura's squad.
By contrast, Italy's players were united under Conte's leadership, and the Federcalcio will know full well that re-appointing the ex-Juventus manager would go down well with their stars and fans alike.