Roberto Mancini, the bookmakers' favourite to replace Claudio Ranieri as Leicester City manager, says he is "sorry for his friend" after the Premier League champions' decision to sack him.
Ranieri was dismissed on Thursday under a year after he led them to a first top-flight title in their history, having been billed as pre-season relegation candidates.
The 65-year-old had struggled to replicate those highs this season and was controversially sacked with Leicester sitting only one point above the relegation zone having suffered five straight league defeats.
Mancini - who played for Leicester in 2001 - has been installed as the early favourite to take the job, but his first thoughts were to pay tribute to Ranieri.
"I am sorry for my friend Ranieri," Mancini wrote on Twitter.
"He will remain in the history of Leicester, in the heart of Leicester fans and all football lovers."
Mancini, 52, has been out of management since losing his job at Inter, who he was leading for a second spell, last August.
He previously managed in England with Manchester City, leading the club for three-and-a-half-years and winning the title in 2012.
Mancini has also taken charge of Fiorentina, Lazio and Galatasaray.