Italy's Roberto Mancini: Andrea Pirlo as No. 2 would be 'right start' to coaching career

Roberto Mancini would welcome the appointment of Andrea Pirlo as his assistant with the Italian FA reported to be considering giving the former Italy midfielder his first coaching role.

Pirlo announced in May that he would study for his coaching badge after ending his playing career with New York City FC last November, and Italy are considering him as Mancini's right-hand man as they look ahead to the Nations League and qualifying for EURO 2020.

Interviewed in La Gazzetta dello Sport on Thursday, Mancini confirmed talks with the 39-year-old and gave his blessing to an appointment of the 2006 World Cup winner.

"Let's wait for it to be official, but Andrea does want to move into coaching so this would be the right road to go down," he said. "It would be the right start, and I can do with somebody with his quality also on the field. Let's wait and see, but it would be important to have him with us."

Mancini also believes that Mario Balotelli has an important role to play in an Italy shirt. The former Inter Milan and Manchester City coach awarded Balotelli his first caps since the 2014 World Cup in his first games in charge of the Azzurri in May and June.

Balotelli's return to the national team was largely regarded as a success, with the Nice forward scoring against Saudi Arabia and impressing against France. Mancini, who worked with the 27-year-old at Inter and City, was impressed with his maturity and is confident the forward can deliver the goods again for his country.

"Mario has huge potential and he can be decisive again like he was in 2012 when he led Italy into the final of the European Championship," he said. "He's a complete centre forward: he has physical strength, technique, a great shot and is strong in the air.

"He's matured. He's 28 [on Aug. 12] now. He did lots of silly things when he was younger, but so did I. The important thing is realising your mistakes and learning from them.

"Mario seemed mature to me the last time I met him in our training camp. He looked determined to get back to being an important player and to prove that the past is the past. I'm optimistic."

Balotelli has scored 14 goals in 35 games for his country and is expected to be part of Mancini's next squad selection for their Nations League debut against Poland on Sep. 7, when Pirlo could make his first appearance as Italy's assistant coach.