Former World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi is being tipped to take over as coach of China after being offered the job following the resignation of Gao Hongbo, reports said Wednesday.
"Lippi, coach of China," ran the headline on the front page of Italy's second most popular sports daily Corriere dello Sport.
It claimed the Italian maestro was "inclined to accept the offer" and added, "In the coming days, the former Italy coach will travel to Beijing to pore over the details of the Chinese football association's offer."
However, the China Football Association's Huang Shiwei told AFP the selection process for a new coach was continuing.
"Only two things I can tell you now. First, we have accepted Gao Hongbo's resignation. Second, for the coach candidate of the national football team, we are doing relevant selection work and our selection has not been finished," he said.
Former China coach Gao resigned on October 11 following a 2-0 World Cup qualifying defeat to Uzbekistan.
The result left China's chances of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia looking slim.
Sitting a lowly 78th in FIFA's rankings, China have claimed just one point from four games and dropped to bottom place in Group A which includes Iran, Uzbekistan, South Korea, Syria and Qatar.
Lippi, who steered Italy to their fourth and most recent World Cup triumph in 2006, is not new to working in China.
The 68-year-old coached Chinese top-flight side Guangzhou Evergrande to three consecutive Super League titles between 2012 and 2014.
Corriere dello Sport said last month Lippi was set to return to the club on a three-year deal worth 20 million euros ($22 million) net per season - a salary that would have put Pep Guardiola's world-beating 17.7 million euro annual salary at Manchester City in the shade.
But the Chinese soccer federation may be about to capture Lippi at a time when they are looking to make huge strides forward in the game.
China have qualified only once for the World Cup, quietly departing the 2002 edition without scoring a goal.
Last year officials declared soccer a compulsory part of the national curriculum, with pledges to open 20,000 soccer-themed schools by 2017 with the aim of producing more than 100,000 players.
There has also been a splurge of Chinese investment in some of Europe's top clubs - Inter Milan, Manchester City, Aston Villa, Espanyol and Atletico Madrid to name but a few - and some of the sport's top stars have been lured to China.