Tottenham Hotspur are back to square one in their increasingly chaotic managerial search after deciding not to appoint Gennaro Gattuso following a strong fan backlash, sources have told ESPN.
Spurs will now reassess the possible candidates -- which sources have said still include Ajax's Erik ten Hag despite him signing a contract extension to 2023 -- after opting against pursing a deal with Gattuso, who on Thursday backed out of a deal to join Fiorentina on July 1, just 23 days after his appointment was announced.
Sources have told ESPN that a positive virtual meeting took place between chairman Daniel Levy and Fonseca. However, at a second meeting with Fabio Paratici, Tottenham's incoming managing director of football, there was less alignment in their visions of the club.
ESPN has also learned that Fonseca would have had to pay €3 million ($3.6m) in tax were he to take up a job outside of Italy before the end of next month due to the country's laws regarding elite sportspeople, although this was not seen as a major obstacle to an agreement.
In fact, Spurs got as far as sending a contract - a two-year deal with an option of a third - to Fonseca on Thursday morning before Paratici led the move to approach Gattuso.
In the midst of this, Fonesca was approach by Fiorentina to sound out his interest in succeeding Gattuso but chose to wait for Spurs to come back. That is yet to happen as of Friday afternoon following Spurs ending their interest in Gattuso.
The hashtag #NoToGattuso was trending on Twitter in the UK while the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters' Trust claimed they had communicated the feeling among fans to the club.
"We can and do communicate supporter sentiment to the decision-makers at the club and have done so very clearly on this occasion," THST wrote in a statement.
Gattuso has previously made controversial comments about racism, women in football and same-sex marriage, while he was also involved in a violent clash with then Spurs coach Joe Jordan while playing against Tottenham for AC Milan in a 2011 Champions League match.
Talks have now ended with the 43-year-old and Spurs are left to consider their next move in a search which has become alarmingly protracted since sacking Jose Mourinho on April 19.
Spurs were originally interested in speaking to RB Leipzig's Julian Nagelsmann and Leicester City's Brendan Rodgers. But Nagelsmann opted to join Bayern Munich while Rodgers showed no interest in leaving Leicester, where he is also under contract until 2025.
Former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte was contacted but an agreement could not be reached while ex-Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino was sounded out over a possible return to the club but sources have told ESPN that he never seriously considered leaving Paris Saint-Germain.