Ranieri safe until end of season

MILAN - Claudio Ranieri's position as Juventus coach is safe until the end of the season, chief executive Jean Claude Blanc said on Tuesday. Third-placed Juve failed to win for a fifth straight Serie A game on Sunday when a stoppage-time equaliser gave lowly Lecce a 2-2 draw in Turin. Newspaper reports said Ranieri was on the brink of being sacked amid speculation there was a dressing room mutiny by some players at halftime. "We will review the situation at the end of the season," Blanc told Sky television. "Now is the time to concentrate on the remaining four matches because we have all the means to maintain and even improve our place in the table." Juve are in their second season back in Serie A after being demoted to the second tier in 2006 for match-fixing. Ranieri led Juve to third spot last term but there have been rumblings of discontent from the fans this season. The Turin club lost to Chelsea in the Champions League last 16 and to Lazio in the Italian Cup semi-finals. TRANSFER MARKET Since Ranieri took over in June 2007 on a three-year contract, Juve have struggled in the transfer market with midfielders Tiago and Christian Poulsen big disappointments. A section of supporters called for Ranieri to resign during Sunday's game and chanted the name of former midfielder Antonio Conte, whose Bari side were forced to wait for promotion to Serie A on Monday after a 0-0 draw with Empoli. Juve visit second-placed AC Milan on Sunday when a victory could hand leaders Inter Milan the title if Jose Mourinho's side win at Chievo. Blanc also said Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro was close to returning to the club despite some fans saying they do not want him back given that he left for Real Madrid when they were demoted. "We are taking it a step at a time because we want to verify each detail before signing the contract. In any case I want to remind everyone that he is a world champion," Blanc said. "When we choose a player we see if he has quality and Cannavaro is a champion who can help our youngsters to grow."