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Is It Antonio Conte or Bust For Roma?

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Roma’s hunt for a sporting director and coach has whittled down to the duo of Petrachi and Conte.

Chelsea v Manchester United - The Emirates FA Cup Final Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

We’d love to bring you more rumours of Roma signing Toni Kroos on a gazillion euros release clause, but the elephant that’s long since destroyed the room to pieces is Roma’s need for a coach and sporting director. The hunt for the man sitting on next season’s Roma bench looks to have boiled down to just one solid candidate: Antonio Conte.

But before we get to him, let’s get to one of Conte’s best mates, who many media sources consider to be the favourite for becoming Roma’s next sporting director.

Torino Worried Gianluca Petrachi Could Leave For Roma

I say ‘worried’ in the headline to be diplomatic about it for the Google searchers, but it’s more like Torino owner Urbano Cairo has been on a steady campaign to emotionally blackmail the hell out of his sporting director Petrachi in public. And the more Cairo takes to the mountain radio waves to insist Petrachi couldnt-possibly-morally-in-all-consciousness-be-negotiating-with-another-club, the more you’re convinced Petrachi is out of there.

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

I hold Cairo in high esteem as one of the best owners to have ever stepped into Serie A, but I’m not a fan of the emotional blackmail card on any day of the week. And not just because it’s Roma involved either. It was just this week I read the old argument that Roma ‘should’ have keep hold of a player like Alisson.

Roma pike world-class talents off of clubs because they believe they’re getting a steal in the market, taking advantage of other clubs’ hard times. In the end it turned out neither Alisson nor Salah were naive enough to believe a club looking to sign them like a seized Mercedes saloon at police auction could afford to keep the club running on the road like a Rolls Royce. And in Alisson’s case, I really really was convinced he would stay at the time. More than anyone. But who knew the guy would wake up to the fact he is the best goalkeeper in world football?

So players like him moved onto clubs who, in turn, took advantage of our hard times. When you live by the sword, be ready to die by it. That’s exactly what Roma are reportedly looking to keep doing with Petrachi as their next sporting director. The Torino man has a record as one of the best police-auction dealers in the game.

Some consider Walter Sabatini to be right up there with Petrachi, but let’s just handle those rumours of Sabatini coming back to Roma right now.

Walter Sabatini: “I Won’t Come Back To Roma”

UC Sampdoria v AC Milan - Serie A Photo by Paolo Rattini/Getty Images

A month ago, Sabatini directly told Roma Fever: “I won’t come back to Roma and I don’t want to give any opinions on the club in such a delicate moment for them.”

So that’s that then.

... And Back to Petrachi

Reports around Roma’s headhunt for Petrachi have been circling for weeks, but now calciomercato.it (the reliable of the two calciomercato domains) have stepped it up by reporting Petrachi is scheduled to meet James Pallotta in Boston for talks.

Gazzetta dello Sport also claim Petrachi has no problem working alongside Massara, but wants a blank cheque to do his work in peace at the club without any outside opinions involved.

Of course, the wider picture of Roma going after Petrachi is his long-term friend Antonio Conte possibly following him to the capital. A link which we first touched upon months back here on CdT.

Roma’s Coach Hunt Down to One Candidate

It was probably always going to come down to this. The only way Roma firing Di Francesco was going to look like an upgrade, was hiring one of Mourinho, Sarri or Conte.

If Duncan Castles of the Sunday Times is to be believed, Mourinho already let Roma know he wasn’t interested some weeks ago. While no one can rightfully say Sarri won’t be in the Chelsea job next season, yet. That leaves us with Antonio Conte and his salary; the likes of which Roma hasn’t seen since Fabio Capello was managing the Giallorossi.

Coincidentally, that was also the last time Roma put an Italian league title in their trophy cabinet. Hmm. Food for thought.

Italian Football Federation ‘Panchina D’Oro’ Prize Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

If Calciomercato are to be believed, Roma have reportedly already made Conte a 9.5 million-a-year offer for three years. Now the English portal of Calciomercato aren’t averse to making up stories for the sake of it, but they’re far from alone in reporting Roma have at least a hat in the ring here.

If you’re in favour of Conte becoming the next Roma coach, it’s more encouraging that his former Juventus teammate and Roman-born Angelo Di Livio claims Conte coming to Roma is a real possibility.

Di Livio told Rome’s Teleradiosterio just yesterday: “I exchange texts with Antonio Conte, but I can’t just come on the air and say exactly what we said or I’d feel like a traitor. If you ask me, there’s grounds for Roma to try and sign him. He’s looking for a serious project, something that he could build from the ground up to become something memorable.”

It won’t be lost on anyone, not least of all Conte, that his involvement with Roma would in itself make the club a serious project. He’s one guy you can’t fire two years into his contract without paying a severe penalty for the year left behind. You’re blocked from signing one or two marquee players in any summer transfer market with Conte’s wages on the books. It’s enough to make a trigger-happy chairman think twice.

The only glaring worry of hiring Conte is the indifferent form of his Juventus and Chelsea sides in Europe.

Pallotta’s Roma can mirror Franco Sensi’s time at the club all it wants - firing a Zeman-disciple eight years into Pallotta’s reign for a Scudetto-winning CV like Conte’s would be a strong parallel to Sensi firing Zeman for Capello back then - but even the Sensis found out that domestic success in Italy is a drop in the ocean for the club’s commercial growth, compared to what the long-awaited 2018 Champions League run has done for the club today.

You need to make a good impression in Europe, to grow the club on the bottom line. All this being said, a three-year offer from Roma to Conte is as shrewd as the club can be.

Are three seasons enough for Conte to push Roma to the top of Serie A? Let alone keeping the club as one of the bright lights of the European scene?