Italian newspapers are reporting that Fiat Auto is expected to hire Martin Leach to head Fiat Auto and replace Giancarlo Boschetti.

Il Giornale reported that a source said Fiat Chief Executive Giuseppe Morchio had been asking Leach to join Fiat for some time and he had 'wavered'. However, the source said that the way was now clear for Leach to join Fiat Auto.

La Repubblica reported that talks were under way to get Leach on board to replace current Fiat Auto head Giancarlo Boschetti, due to step down next year.

Martin Leach stepped down as Ford of Europe's COO this week. Ford's official announcement of the departure said that Leach 'has elected to leave the company to pursue new opportunities'. Analysts speculate that Leach was under pressure in the face of Ford Europe's disappointing financial results this year.

David Thursfield, Ford's International Operations head, has been taking a more hands-on approach to Ford of Europe lately and there has been speculation that a Ford reorganisation could see a new head of Ford Europe and PAG appointed above Leach's Ford Europe COO position.