clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Roma's Rebuild Could Follow Ajax Model

Roma could follow Ajax's pattern in their latest rebuild—youth and low wages.

AC ChievoVerona v FC Torino - Serie A Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

The rebuild is already in progress. Just how massive an undertaking that rebuild becomes likely depends on if Roma is able to qualify for next season’s Champions League. We already know there will be a new manager and new sporting director, and very likely a much different looking roster. As Corriere dello Sport stated in simple terms, “Year nine, year zero.” This refers to the fact that next season will be the ninth under American ownership, but the start of a complete overhaul.

In a sense the rebuild began last season when Monchi offloaded stalwarts Radja Nainggolan and Kevin Strootman, and likely would’ve continued under the Spaniard’s guidance had he stuck around. However, with the way this season has gone, missed UCL qualification will likely speed the process along even more and make it an even greater point of emphasis.

The priority of such a rebuild would likely focus on bringing in youth to replace some aging veterans, while at the same time reducing the team’s overall payroll. As Corriere dello Sport alluded to, an interesting idea is being floated around Trigoria for the rebuild; an idea in which Roma would follow more of an Ajax model; one that emphasizes developing the best youth and cutting costs.


Of course before Roma can fully turn its attentions to the transfer market this summer, it must first straighten out its management positions; namely hiring a sporting director and manager. While many names have been floated around, the man that seems to be most closely linked with the Giallorossi’s DS position is Gianluca Petrachi, who currently holds the same role at Torino.

Once hired, Petrachi, or whoever ends up being the DS, will have to hire a manager. Calcio Mercato, which echoed many of the sentiments of CdS’s rebuild strategy, identified Roma’s ideal manager candidates as being “Italian and ambitious”. By all accounts Petrachi’s good friend, Antonio Conte, remains Roma’s dream candidate and the club will be buoyed by comments from Carlo Tavecchio stating, “Conte wants to return to coach in Italy.” Nonetheless, it seems a difficult hire for Roma.

Meanwhile, other candidates include Maurizio Sarri and Gianpiero Gasperini—Sarri seems to be the preferred candidate of Pallotta confidant Franco Baldini. However, Gasperini seems like a more logical choice for his body of work at Atalanta, especially if Roma focus on building a young talented team.


Before Roma even gets to hiring a DS, Ricky Massara, who is currently filling the position on an interim basis, must take care some vital contract renewals. All of these renewals were rumored to be in the works when Monchi was still at the helm, now it’s up to Massara to finish the Spaniard’s business. The players who are being prioritized for renewals are De Rossi, Zaniolo, Lorenzo Pellegrini, and El Shaarawy.

De Rossi’s contract is expiring this summer and is expected to re-up for one year at around half of his current €3 million salary. Meanwhile, Zaniolo, who likely will be the target of many summer offers, will be in line for a big pay raise as the club signals its intent to build around him. Roma would like to negotiate a new deal with Pellegrini to eliminate a very affordable release clause for interested parties. Lastly, Massara will look to extend El Shaarawy’s deal past its 2020 expiration with Il Faraone enjoying his best season in the Capital.

Who’s In? Who’s Out?

If Roma do indeed go for a big rebuild following an Ajax model, as suggested by both sources, expect Roma to focus on signing domestic talent. This is not to suggest that foreigners won’t be pursued as well, but the “Made in Italy” feel of the current Roma should increase. Take a read below to see some of the names mentioned by Cds and CM.


Italy Training Session And Press Conference Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Out- Robin Olsen, In- Alessio Cragno

Given the events of the past two seasons, we’ve become accustomed to seeing Roma lose top class keepers to bigger clubs. Two seasons ago, Wojciech Szczęsny moved on to Juve after a two-year loan with Roma, while last summer Alisson was sold for a record setting fee to Liverpool. Olsen was then brought in, and now it appears that the big Swede may have already worn out his welcome after failing to fill the gloves of the aforementioned men.

The name most readily being linked with a move to Roma, if Olsen departs, is Cagliari’s Alessio Cragno. The 24 year old Italian has come into his own in Sardinia over the past two seasons and has become part of the national team set up. Cragno would certainly fit the profile for a rebuild: young yet experienced with a seemingly high ceiling.


Italy v Liechtenstein - UEFA EURO 2020 Qualifier Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Out- Everyone, In- Gianluca Mancini, Armando Izzo

I’m exaggerating when I say that everyone will be gone from the current rearguard. However, the center back position has led to Roma’s demise for much of the season. Manolas is probably the defender with the most left to give to the club. However, with an affordable release clause, the Greek has been heavily linked with teams like Man United and Juve. He recently stated that he “likes his life in Rome”.

We’ll see if that’s enough to keep him around. As much as Roma would probably rather move on from players like Federico Fazio and Juan Jesus, they will likely be harder to move due to salaries over €2 million and performances below their pay grade.

If Roma can move on from its current crop of defenders, Gianluca Mancini and Armando Izzo could be brought in to help solidify the center of defense. Mancini has been previously linked with Roma, and even though a move didn’t come to fruition in January, the Giallorossi are rumored to have a summer deal lined up. Mancini has really grown at Atalanta under Gasperini, and turning just 23 in April, he fits the young, talented Italian profile.

Italy Training Session And Press Conference Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Izzo may not be quite as young, but he would fit into the rebuild by providing a veteran presence at an affordable cost. Izzo is excelling at Torino this season, earning a national team call-up against Liechtenstein, and could follow Petrachi to the capital.


Out- Steven N’Zonzi, Javier Pastore, In- Sandro Tonali or Stefano Sensi

N’Zonzi and Pastore, like Olsen, were brought in this summer by Monchi as big signings, yet have seriously underwhelmed. N’Zonzi, it’s said, could seek a return to the Premier League, while Pastore, with his injury history, could be harder to move. Additionally, both players have salaries over €3 million, which could be potential stumbling blocks to moves.

In the midfield, Roma are desperate for an heir apparent to De Rossi in the regista role. The name most heavily linked throughout the season has been Brescia’s Sandro Tonali. However, Tonali has been linked with many top clubs, and a bidding war could ensue for the 18 year old; probably not something Roma would want to get mixed up in without Champions League money.

Italy v Liechtenstein - UEFA EURO 2020 Qualifier Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

Therefore, keep an eye out for some less hearlded names to become possible targets. One of those is current Sassuolo midfielder Stefano Sensi. Sensi just seems to make too much sense for Roma not to give him a hard look. Sensi is 23 years old with a few years of Serie A experience and a great passer of the ball. He has the ability to dictate play from the center of the park, something Roma sorely miss when De Rossi isn’t on the pitch. He has also put in two impressive performances for the national team under Mancini,


Torino FC v Bologna FC - Serie A Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Out- Edin Dzeko, In- Andrea Belotti

The biggest name being linked to Roma in the CdS and CM articles is Andrea Belotti. If Roma does decide to cut ties with Dzeko, its highest paid player at €4.5 million, while he still has resale value, then it will need a suitable replacement.

Even with Patrik Schick in the fold Roma will still need another striker. Belotti is still just 25 years old and coming off a 26 goal season just two years ago. After scoring just 10 goals in Serie A last season, he currently sits on the same number so far this season. He may or may not be the player we saw in 16/17, but now could be the time to take a chance on Il Gallo. With his decreased production, Roma could strike a deal at a favorable price, especially if Petrachi is indeed the DS they hire.

While it’s unlikely that all of these moves happen, Roma will be active on the mercato this summer. In addition to the aforementioned players offers will likely be evaluated for players like Cengiz Ünder and Diego Perotti, as well as returning loanees like Gregoire Defrel and Bruno Peres.

Get ready, it’ll likely be a busy summer here at CdT.