Silvio seeking emerging Ancelotti successor

MILAN - AC Milan will go in search of an emerging coach rather than an established name if Carlo Ancelotti leaves at the end of the season, owner Silvio Berlusconi said on Wednesday.

Despite his constant denials, Ancelotti has long been linked in the media with Chelsea given that their interim coach Guus Hiddink will return to managing Russia at the end of May.

Berlusconi, who still thinks Ancelotti may stay, has fond memories of the success Arrigo Sacchi and Fabio Capello managed at the San Siro in the 1980s and 90s when they were inexperienced coaches.

"I believe the agreement between Ancelotti and chief executive Adriano Galliani is this: 'We will sit around a table at the end of the season to discuss the future'," the Italian prime minister told Sky television.

"(If he leaves) I would take the route of an emerging coach like we did in the times of Sacchi and Capello. I haven't talked with Galliani once about the name of a new coach. Ancelotti is tied to the club with a contract that runs out in 2010."

Former Barcelona boss and Milan player Frank Rijkaard is among the favourites to replace Ancelotti while Galliani has said he admires Cagliari's Massimiliano Allegri.

A fifth-place finish in Serie A last term and some average displays earlier this season had put Ancelotti under pressure.

However, they have made up seven points on leaders Inter Milan in the last three games to lie seven behind their rivals with five games left.

Struggling Ronaldinho, Milan's big close season signing from Barcelona, has been consigned to the bench in recent weeks and Berlusconi is eager to see him back to his best.

"The Brazilian must remember that he was the ambition and the dream of all the Rossoneri fans, who cannot wait to see him again on the field," he said.