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Football | France

Claudio Ranieri © Gallo Images

Ranieri takes over as Nantes coach

Nantes president Waldemar Kita heaped praise on former Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri, who opted to take over as coach of the Ligue 1 outfit despite being linked to teams in China and England.

The Ligue I side received special dispensation from French league (LFP) officials on Tuesday to hire the popular Italian as he has reached the manager's age limit of 65 years.

"The negotiations were very, very swift," Polish businessman Kita told AFP, revealing Ranieri had travelled from Rome to Paris to meet him on Sunday.

Ranieri, 65, joins on a two-year deal and will be assisted by four deputy coaches and a supervisor -- all Italian like himself -- as the southern Brittany side target a first French league title since 2001.

"I think that our organisation appealed to him and the fact that there is no intermediary between the coach and the president," Kita explained.

"I've been dealing with a courteous, polite and dynamic man who seems so much younger than his actual age.

"We have to provide him with the means to take us higher.

"The fact he will only be answerable to me, that there is no intermediary between us, seemed to reassure him."

Nantes finished seventh in Ligue 1 last season but a week ago agreed to allow Portuguese coach Sergio Conceicao to return to his homeland and take over at Porto.

"We have to put things in order and recognise the work of Sergio Conceicao," Kita said. "Today, with Claudio Ranieri, we are in continuity."

Ranieri arrives just four months after being sacked by Leicester, whom he guided to a 5000-1 odds Premier League title in 2016.

But his second season was a disaster as the English team flirted with relegation and he was sacked in February, despite being through to the Champions League last 16.

Ranieri's departure coincided with an upturn in Leicester's fortunes under Craig Shakespeare and they finished the season comfortably in mid-table.

The Italian already has experience of working in France having guided Monaco back to Ligue 1 in 2012/13 and then to second place behind Paris Saint-Germain the following season.

The much-travelled Ranieri's managerial career spans three decades and has included all the major clubs in Italy except AC Milan.

His former clubs also include Atletico Madrid, Chelsea and Valencia, but his league win with Leicester, after an unsuccessful spell in charge of Greece, remains his only top-flight title.

The bookmakers William Hill were quoting odds of 200-1 on Nantes winning the French title next season, behind Qatar-backed Paris Saint-Germain at 1-2, and champions Monaco at 4-1.


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