FORMER Sunderland head coach target Francesco Farioli looks set to leave Nice and take charge at Ajax.

Eyebrows were raised when Sunderland were linked with the Italian at the back end of the 2022/23 season, with the Black Cats flying high at the time under Tony Mowbray and eventually securing a top six finish in the Championship.

Farioli went on to take charge at Nice last summer and has had an impressive first season in France, with his side currently sitting fifth in Ligue 1 with two games to play.

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But the 35-year-old now looks set to be heading to Ajax, with reports from Holland claiming the Dutch giants have agreed a deal with Farioli. Compensation talks between Ajax and Nice will now take place. Farioli has one year to run on his deal in France.

The former Alanyaspor boss was said to have been on a three-man shortlist to take charge at Ajax. They failed in their to bid to tempt Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag to return to Amsterdam and were also rejected by former Brighton and Chelsea head coach Graham Potter, before turning to Farioli.

While admired by Sunderland's hierarchy, the fact Farioli has been in position at Nice meant a move for the Italian was never on the cards as the Black Cats set about identifying targets to replace Michael Beale earlier this year.

Sunderland have now whittled down the list of contenders to take charge at the Stadium of Light but are understood to be still going through the process of speaking to candidates.

Bo Svensson was the latest candidate to be linked with the vacancy over the weekend, with the 44-year-old having been out of work since leaving Mainz in November last year.

While Sunderland will have the new boss in place in good time before the start of pre-season, club bosses remain focused on ensuring their search is as meticulous as possible before they settle on an appointment.


Kristjaan Speakman and Kyril Louis-Dreyfus are continuing to consider their options with former Reims boss Will Still and Bayern Munich Under-19s coach Rene Maric on their shortlist. Former Sheffield United boss Paul Heckingbottom also remains a candidate.

Meanwhile, Sunderland's youngsters have a Premier League 2 semi-final clash with Reading to look forward to after a stunning penalty shoot-out victory over West Ham at Eppleton on Monday night.

Graeme Murty's side - which included Chris Rigg and Tommy Watson - came from behind three times to draw 3-3 with the Hammers before winning 5-4 on penalties.