Rafa Benitez's "back-me-or-sack-me" ultimatum after the Club World Cup final in Abu Dhabi appears to have cost him his job as Inter Milan manager.
'Appears' being the operable word because nobody at the club seemed willing to deny or confirm the fact yesterday.
While the Italian newspapers printed claims that Leonardo, the former AC Milan manager, was being primed to take over from the Spaniard, club president Massimo Moratti declined to confirm Benitez had been officially sacked but did say the situation was complicated.
"We are trying to understand what's going on, this situation is a bit of a mess," Moratti told reporters yesterday.
"Everything that happened was a bit unexpected, we are considering every point of view."
Widespread media reports said Benitez was in the process of being removed after just six months in charge of the European and Italian champions given his injury-hit side's poor domestic form and Saturday's shock outburst about a lack of signings.
Former Liverpool manager Benitez, upset no new players were brought in during the close-season, gave Inter an ultimatum after their 3-0 Club World Cup final win over TP Mazembe that he would speak to his agent about his future if signings did not materialise in January.
Moratti said the comments were "inappropriate", sparking speculation Benitez had been sacked but Inter have made no official comment amid reports they are struggling to agree a severance package despite the coach having only a two-year deal.
When former Inter coach Roberto Mancini was axed in 2008, it took the club several days to officially confirm what every fan knew had been decided at a summit with Moratti.
Former Milan coach Leonardo, who left Inter's city rivals after just one season in management in May, has been made favourite to succeed Benitez after Zenit St Petersburg said their boss Luciano Spalletti, the former Roma manager, was staying.
"I haven't had a way of talking to any other coach. I haven't met Leonardo," Moratti added.
The idea of a Milan coach managing their big rivals just a season later may seem alien to many fotball fans but such a move would be nothing new for Italian football with players and managers often swapping between the big clubs.
Former Inter talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic is now excelling at Serie A leaders Milan and they have built up a 13-point advantage over seventh-placed Inter, whose hopes of a sixth straight scudetto look unlikely.
In an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport in September, Brazilian Leonardo said he would not be averse to one day coaching Inter having left Milan after having had a falling out with club owner Silvio Berlusconi.
"Me and Moratti have known each other for years," Leonardo said. "Never say never."