With all the big news that has engulfed Roma recently, from the 2-0 loss to Sevilla to the confirmation of The Friedkin Group’s purchase of Roma from Jim Pallotta, you’d be forgiven if you forgot that the Giallorossi are currently without a Director of Sport. One of Pallotta’s last major moves as President of Roma was sacking Gianluca Petrachi, the fiery former Torino DS, after a major argument between the two. Franco Baldini has served as a Director of Sport pro tempore of sorts since Petrachi’s firing, but Pallotta’s sale of the club will probably mean that Baldini’s time as an “advisor” is coming to a close. Given that, who might be The Friedkin Group’s first hire at Director of Sport? Here’s our first Power Ranking of the rumored contenders for the position.
Tier One: The Shiny New Toy
Ralf Rangnick (which, by the way, is an excellent name) has to be the most exciting name connected to the Roma DS job. Rangnick is widely thought of as one of the more influential managers in the world of football, and he held the role of Head of Sport Development for Red Bull GmbH from 2012 until July 2020. In that role, the German essentially oversaw all of Red Bull’s clubs: Red Bull Salzburg, RB Leipzig, New York Red Bulls, and Red Bull Brasil. He also put in time as the coach for Leipzig while working with Red Bull, and there were rumors of him moving to AC Milan until they decided to extend Stefano Pioli’s contract.
To put it simply, Rangnick would be a very serious hire by the Giallorossi’s new managment. He’s world-class at what he does, and I highly doubt anyone Roma could hire would be better. You only need to look at what Leipzig have done in the past couple years and you’ll understand why. The potential issue is that Rangnick is rumored to want to both work as DS and manager wherever he goes next; would The Friedkin Group cut bait on Paulo Fonseca to sign Rangnick, and furthermore, should they?
Tier Two: Ingratiate Yourself With The City Of Rome In Three Easy Steps
Nicolas Burdisso, Francesco Totti, Daniele De Rossi
I somehow couldn’t find a picture of Burdisso, Totti, and De Rossi all together in our photo archives, but you get the point. Each of these ex-players graced the Olimpico with their play; each of these ex-players is remembered fondly by Romanisti (although De Rossi and Totti are much higher in the Roman pantheon than Burdisso); each of these ex-players has stuck around in the world of football since their retirement.
Out of all three, Burdisso has the most related experience, as he’s currently the Director of Sport for Argentine side Boca Juniors. Totti, as you probably know, has recently started his own sports agency, while Daniele De Rossi has taken coaching classes and has been connected to jobs with Fiorentina, Bologna, and more. Bringing in one of these former Roma players would be a statement of intent from The Friedkin Group that their goal is to listen closely to the desires of Romanisti, and it would certainly be a romantic story to see any of Burdisso, De Rossi, or Totti become the brains behind Roma’s transfer market. However, I’m not too convinced that any of these guys is the actual right choice for the new Director of Sport. How could you ever fire Totti or De Rossi from the club, even if they make mistake after mistake in the transfer market? As for Burdisso, he’s only been a Director of Sport since 2018; he needs more time learning the tricks of the trade before being thrown into the fire that is trying to run Roma.
Bookmark these guys for later, because one of them may be a great DS for Roma one day. Not just yet, though.
Tier Three: Meet The New Boss, Same As The Old Boss
Gianluca Petrachi and Walter Sabatini
If you’ve followed the Giallorossi during the Pallotta era, you know these guys. Sabatini left Roma after six years for Inter, and he had some major hits (Marquinhos, Miralem Pjanic, and countless more) and some major duds. He’s currently employed by Bologna, who managed twelfth place in Serie A this season. As for Petrachi, his most recent employer was Roma, and he’s only just been fired by the Giallorossi. The reason why his name has popped back up in the rumor mill is because The Friedkin Group was apparently quite impressed with him when the visited the club earlier in 2020. With Pallotta and Baldini gone, Roma may re-hire Petrachi; his purchases had done a decent job so far, all things considered.
Personally, I don’t find the idea of going backwards and hiring either Petrachi or Sabatini that appealing, but I do understand why a new ownership group might be interested. Both Italians have worked in Rome before, and since The Friedkin Group has no connection to Italy beyond Ryan Friedkin’s time as a film producer, it might make sense to have a Director of Sport who knows his way around Trigoria and Serie A. On the other hand, there’s a reason why neither of them are Roma’s Director of Sport right now. We’ll see what happens on this front, but there’s a reason I’ve placed Petrachi and Sabatini in this third tier. To quote Huey Lewis, I want a new drug.
Who should be Roma’s next Director of Sport?
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Daniele De Rossi