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Spalletti backs Guardiola for Russia role

11 July 2012 15:14

Zenit St Petersburg manager Luciano Spalletti has backed Pep Guardiola to become the new Russian manager.

The Football Union of Russia published a 13-strong list of candidates deemed to be worthy successors to Dick Advocaat, including stellar names such as the former Barcelona coach, Marcelo Bielsa and Fabio Capello.

And Spalletti, who has been in charge of Zenit since departing Roma in 2009, believes Guardiola is the best man to take the nation forward.

"From my point of view, the best of all the coaches to take over would be Guardiola," he told Zenit's official website.

"It would be nice, because I feel a little Russian, if our team is coached by him."

However, the Italian also earmarked his veteran midfielder Sergey Semak as a future Russia coach.

The 36-year-old, who has two years remaining on his contract at the reigning champions, has represented Russia on 65 occasions, and featured in the nation's run to the Euro 2008 semi-finals in Austria and Switzerland.

"The names mentioned are all good and strong coaches. There's also the figure of Valery Nepomniaschy. When I look at him, he reminds me of (Giovanni) Trapattoni.

"But if I had to make a prediction for the future, we should choose a coach with some new ideas, who would give impetus to the establishment of football in the country, a man whose heart is very close to the country.

"In my opinion, if we want to get ahead of the times, then Semak would be the right person to coach the national team.

"This is a man with a great character, who has never had a bad relationship with the players.

"I say this seriously, perhaps against my own interests, because he has a contract with my team, and I'm pretty confident that he will be able to play next season, and the season after."

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