Just as we expected all along, once the sale of the club passed the final hurdles, rumors of a top down remake of AS Roma would soon follow. While the €591 million transaction won't be complete until August 31st, Dan Friedkin has been the ostensible owner of Roma for less than a week and already we've seen the club linked to numerous players, directors of sport and, yes, even managers.
It was bound to happen and with less than six weeks before the new season begins, don't expect these rumors to stop until and unless Friedkin puts a definitive stop to the whirlwind of speculation about his newest asset.
But, since we're here, let's take a quick look at your Sunday rumors.
Progress on the Stadio della Roma
I know, I know. Stop me if you've heard this one before, but the weekend brought with it some not so insignificant news on the stadium front.
Per a statement from the club:
The two resolutions approved on Friday will guarantee benefits not only in terms of accessibility to the new stadium area but for the entire city traffic system.
Thanks to the approval of the agreement between Roma Capitale and the Metropolitan City of Rome, the city sections of the Via del Mare and Via Ostiense will be connected, two of the main streets used by the public to connect the seaside with the city.
The new stadium project will also lead to the enhancement of the city’s public rail network.
The resolution was also approved, with the collaboration agreement between Roma Capitale and the Lazio Region, which will ensure the strengthening of local public transport infrastructures, in particular of the Rome-Lido railway line.
After the due diligence requested by the Mayor Virginia Raggi, who has definitively given the green light to the process for the new stadium, the next step will be the green light of the Rome Capital Government to the final version of the Urban Planning Agreement.
Once approved by the Rome Capital Government, the text will be analysed by the town hall that hosts the area and by the dedicated commissions of the Rome Capital Assembly, before being examined by the municipal councilors in September - the last step before a process that has now begun to reach a conclusion, which will allow AS Roma to finally begin building the new stadium
Roma NEEDS this stadium in the worst way, but it's hard not be jaded after, like, eight years of this bullshit. Should we be excited? Can we be excited? Is that even allowed?
Walter Sabatini Denies Roma Return
There are certainly people to whom Roma will always be connected, regardless of timing, circumstances or even if they're gainfully employed elsewhere. And while he's not at the top of that list, everyone's favorite chain smoking, South American talent spotting DS has been linked with a move back to Roma. Walter Sabatini may be working for Bologna, but Roma's empty DS seat and Uncle Walt's history with the club led many to link the 65-year-old Marsciano native as the man to lead Roma's latest project.
But, whether he's simply playing coy or is legitimately happy with his current position in Bologna, Sabatini—speaking to Calciomercato.it—was quick to dismiss rumors of a Roma return.
I read so many things in the papers over the last few days, rumours or just whispers that take me closer to the new owners of AS Roma as a possible ‘candidate’ for director of sport
Although I love Roma and the fans, I am entirely focused on the project I’ve been carrying on for over a year as technical director of Bologna FC and Montreal Impact.
I do not intend on shifting my attention away from here.
With brighter and shinier names being mentioned as Roma's new Director of Sport, Sabatini could be the cheaper, dark-horse candidate.
EDF Could Bring Florenzi and Jesus to Cagliari
Boy, imagine being Eusebio Di Francesco this week. After sitting on the sidelines for much of the season, with his name being intermittently connected to various Serie A benches over the past several months, EDF settled for a new life in Sardinia, signing on as Cagliari's new coach on August 3rd—five days before the Juventus job opened up. We'll never know if EDF would have been a candidate for the Old Lady, but that “what if” would drive me crazy if I were EDF.
Cagliari is a decent post and from the looks of it, Di Francesco is set to bring back two of his former Roma stalwarts: Alessandro Florenzi and Juan Jesus. Multiple outlets in Italy claim that EDF is seeking to add Florenzi and Jesus to his mini Roma reunion, joining back up with Radja Nainggolan in Cagliari.
Jesus is definitely not part of Roma's plans going forward, but one can't help but wonder if Florenzi could succeed in Fonseca's new tactical setup.
Speaking of tactical fits...
Pedro Ready to Embrace Roma Move
While he didn't come right out and say it, in his goodbye to Chelsea fans via his Instagram account, Pedro spoke about the next stage of his career:
I say farewell very pleased with this stage of my career, and I’m also very excited with the next to begin. Thanks and good luck for the future.
It's not exactly a secret anymore—Pedro has been linked with Roma for months—but after shoulder surgery following an injury he sustained in the FA Cup Final and the new questions about his proper fit in Fonseca's new formation, there was some small doubt about whether or not he'd still move to Roma.
We should know the answer in a matter of weeks (if not days) but with a new owner and potentially a new manager in tow, could Pedro be headed elsewhere?
And now on to the heart of the matter...
Roma Look to Mauricio Pochettino
Paulo Fonseca certainly had an interesting first year in Rome. For much of the season, he struggled to implant Fonseca Football® on his new charges, struggling to string together a run of positive performances, never winning more than three matches in a row until the restart. And while he was massively outclassed in Roma's 2-0 defeat to Sevilla in the Europa League Round of 16, he did guide Roma to an eight match unbeaten run to end the Serie A season.
By any measure, he did well enough to earn another year at the helm. But, as we cautioned all season long, with a new owner in town, all bets were off and Fonseca, no matter how well he did, was fair game.
To wit: Mauricio Pochettino is one of several out of work coaches connected to the Roma job over the past 72 hours. According to Spanish paper AS, Pochettino is a candidate for the Roma job, having been sacked from Spurs last fall. Pochettino hasn't spoke about the Roma vacancy but did admit an attraction to coaching in England, Spain or Italy.
With a new owner and a yet to be filled Director of Sport position, Roma's new leadership may opt for a complete restart, which would cast Fonseca as an unjust victim and would leave Roma scrambling to find a new coach prior to the start of the new season on September 19th.
The DS is the first domino to fall, after that we should have a clearer indication if Fonseca is headed for the unemployment line or not.