We mentioned it late last week, but only in Rome could you start off the month discussing the benefits of a possible signing of Antonio Conte or Maurizio Sarri yet end up rifling through the dregs of Serie A retreads like Mihajlovic or the patently absurd notion of bringing EDF back only three months after sacking him. But, that's what keeps bringing us back to Roma; the fear and excitement of the unknown.
Hey, speaking of unknowns, Roma may be going that route for their next manager:
Paulo Fonseca isn't unknown in the strictest sense—he's done some fine work with Shakhtar Donetsk and given their clash in the Champions League, he's at least tangentially familiar to Roma fans—but his name became so randomly connected to Roma, it’s hard not to view him as merely another dull link in an uninspiring chain.
But is he?
Since leaving Portugal for Donetsk in 2016, Fonseca has dominated the Ukraine Premier League, winning 75% of his matches en route to three-consecutive league titles, three-consecutive league cups and one league super cup. Fonseca achieved all this despite having a restrained transfer budget and limited command of either the Ukrainian or Russian languages.
Fonseca's teams typically lineup, or at least spring from, a base 4-2-3-1, with the wide players proving a majority of the attacking impetus, while the defense is shielded by a double-pivot featuring your standard box-to-box player and a more traditional defensive mid. Fonseca's man management skills, specifically his ability to shift and change roles of individual players depending on the context of the match, has led some to compare him to Pep Guardiola.
While that is indeed lofty praise, given his performance with Shakhtar and the level of acclaim some of his players have earned (most notably Fred, Bernard and Taison), Fonseca does have the look and appeal of an up and coming coach. And with their other, pricier options all off the table, Roma are reportedly keying in on Fonseca, with RomaPress reporting that the club have spoken to his agent, Marco Abreu.
If these rumors carry any weight, Roma are prepping a three-year deal for Fonseca, one that would pay him €2.5 million per year, and could be settled as early as next week.
Fonseca may not have been the first or the flashiest name on Roma's managerial wish list, but given his ability to work with tight budgets, he does fit the bill for a Pallotta hire.
We'll keep tabs on this one as it unfolds, but with a more compressed summer ahead of us, Roma need to find their man as soon as possible.