The arrival of the inspirational sporting director, Monchi, from Sevilla cannot come too soon for Roma, a team looking to become a global player
Atalanta’s last minute equaliser against Juventus on Friday night had given a lot of neutral fans hope: the Scudetto race wasn’t over just yet. With Juve still having to play Roma, and a lot still to happen, the Giallorossi had the chance to get two points closer to the leaders by winning the Rome derby against high-flying Lazio. But everything went very wrong.
Lazio completely outplayed Luciano Spalletti’s side, piling three goals on the Giallorossi, whose only joy came from a wrong referee decision: Kevin Strootman’s dive was rewarded with a non-existent penalty. It wasn’t enough for Roma anyway, as Lazio proved to be the rulers of the capital and did a favour to Juventus.
After such a disappointing season, where can Roma go from here? There have been positives, but overall considering the premises, the Giallorossi will reach the summer transfer window with a lot of changes to make.
Those changes start with the manager. Spalletti himself has said more than once, that he intends to leave, and in light of recent results even those within the club who wanted to keep him will now have opted for a different solution. The first step was the appointment of Monchi as sporting director. The man who has helped to lead Sevilla to five Europa League titles now intends to bring trophies to the Eternal City, too.
The Spaniard’s first decision will be on the new coach. Spalletti’s successor will need to better the former Zenit man’s work, and that won’t be that simple. A reunion between Monchi and Unai Emery – the man with whom he won three consecutive Europa Leagues in Seville – is on the cards, especially if the former Sevilla coach ends the season with no major titles at Paris Saint Germain.
The issue with Emery would be his scant knowledge of Serie A, the positive would be a fresh face at a club that needs change. Roma are looking at a foreign manager to open up to Europe more, and he could be the right candidate. Monchi’s appointment is already a step in this direction: making Roma more international.
The new sporting director shares with the former one – the Italian Walter Sabatini – the ability to make money from transfers: buying players at a small fee and selling at a much higher value. To this end, Roma are hoping Monchi will oversee a repeat of the trophy haul they saw at Sevilla, at least. And a change in mentality too: more international, more open, more ready for a global concept of football clubs.
Then there’s the players, and results. What happens on the pitch remains the most important part. So Monchi will need to bring in footballers who can change the face of Roma, and get rid of the unnecessary ones. A delicate case is that of Francesco Totti, a figure who often overshadows the rest of the squad. Keep him another season or give him a golden goodbye? A hard decision.
Kostas Manolas and Radja Nainggolan could also leave the club, bringing in a lot of fresh cash to reinvest in new talent. Atalanta’s Franck Kessie seems a good option and a solid starting point. The rest is down to Monchi’s work. So that in a year’s time Roma will be properly fighting with Juventus for the title, rather than giving up the fight so early.