How Roma rebuilt the last time they finished sixth in 2013

After many years of steady progress on and off the pitch, Roma find themselves back at square one following a dismal season, which saw changes in the squad, head coach and sporting director.

For the first time in six years, Roma failed to finish in the Champions League places, meaning even more changes are set to take place this summer. Missing out on qualifying for the competition is a huge blow to the club’s finances, meaning key players are likely to be sold, and with no clear sign of who is going to take over as the next coach, the situation is becoming more complicated by the day.

Here, Giallorossi Yorkshire takes a look at what happened in the summer after the last time Roma finished sixth (in 2012-13), to see if that can give any insight into how the club might set about their rebuild this time around.

The managerial situation

Just like this season, Roma’s last majorly disappointing year ended with a caretaker manager in charge. Aurelio Andreazzoli, long-time assistant at the club, had replaced Zdenek Zeman on an interim basis in February, but like Claudio Ranieri this year, wasn’t given the role full-time.

Instead, Roma’s leadership looked abroad. Lille coach Rudi Garcia was appointed as the new head coach, despite having never played or coached in Italy before. Garcia had led Lille to the Ligue 1 and Coupe De France double in 2010-11, with the league title being their first since the 1950s. However, his final season in charge had seen the French side finish 6th, just like the club he was joining. It was a somewhat left-field appointment, a calculated gamble, but it almost had the desired effect.

Under Garcia, Roma won their first 10 Serie A matches, setting a new league record. However, the momentum was lost towards the end of the season, and Roma finished runners up to Juventus. In the short-term, Garcia gave Roma the breath of fresh air they needed, but he could never quite recapture that original magic thereafter.

Perhaps Roma will pick out a foreign manager again this time. Could it be Paulo Fonseca from Shakhtar in Ukraine, or Pepe Bordalas from Getafe in Spain?

The sales

Several big names were sold following the failure to qualify for the Champions League. The most expensive departures were Erik Lamela for €30m and Marquinhos for €35m, two young South Americans who had blossomed at Roma and moved on to bigger things.

Another significant departure was that of Dani Osvaldo, who moved to Southampton after two seasons with Roma, in both of which he was top scorer. Fellow attacker Bojan Krkic, who had spent the year out on loan at Milan, was bought back by Barcelona.

In addition, goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg and midfielder Panagiotis Tachtsidis were moved on for small sums, while the squad was hit with the retirement of a legendary midfielder in Simone Perrotta – similar to how Roma are losing Daniele De Rossi now.

Of course, Roma can expect to sell big names this summer, too. Kostas Manolas and Cengiz Under are probably the most likely candidates. They are the Marquinhos and Lamela of this team, in a way – two talents, a defender and a winger, who were given a platform by this club and can be sold on for a big profit.

The Osvaldo to leave will likely be Edin Dzeko, who has not matched his standards of the past two seasons, and has been linked with PSG and Inter Milan. Dzeko’s former Manchester City teammate, Aleksandar Kolarov, could also leave, with a return to boyhood club Red Star mooted.

The signings

In light of all the departures, some major signings were needed, and Roma ended up bringing 13 players to the club. Three of those – Gianluca Caprari, Giammario Piscitella and Valerio Verre – were returning after loans or co-ownerships, although the latter two were sold on straight away.

The signings were a mix of talents picked from smaller Serie A clubs, and exciting arrivals from overseas. To replace Marquinhos, Medhi Benatia was brought in from Udinese (who had finished fifth), while Lamela’s departure was accounted for by the signings of Adem Ljajic and Gervinho – the latter having been part of the side that had won Ligue 1 under Garcia at Lille.

The most expensive purchase was Kevin Strootman, a 23-year-old Dutch midfielder arriving from PSV. At the other end of the scale, the cheapest addition was Maicon, who joined on a free from Man City.

Mattia Destro came in from Genoa, after top scoring on loan at Siena, while Morgan De Sanctis came in as the new first choice goalkeeper.

How might a similar scenario play out this year? One defender who has been linked with the club is Gianluca Mancini. Like Udinese in 2013, Atalanta finished above Roma this year, and the Giallorossi could take one of their most important components to restore the natural order.

The identity of the next coach is unclear, but perhaps he too will be reunited with a former player, who can become Garcia’s Gervinho.

Will Roma look at free agents like they did with Maicon? A number of decent players will be available for nothing this summer: Fernando Llorente has been linked as a replacement for Edin Dzeko, for example.

The young potential

In 2013, Roma also added some younger players, like Tin Jedvaj and Lukasz Skorupski, to freshen up the roster. This year, Banfield’s Agustin Urzi has been linked, a 19-year-old Argentine winger.

Players from the club’s own youth ranks were also given bigger roles in the first team, such as defender Alessio Romagnoli, and, to a lesser extent, winger Federico Ricci. Will Roma supplement their squad next season with the talents of midfielder Alessio Riccardi, striker Zan Celar, or winger Gianmarco Cangiano, for example? Or perhaps a former youth player will be brought back, like Caprari was – Davide Frattesi, who was sold to Sassuolo in 2017, has been linked with a return after impressing on loan at Ascoli this year, and Luca Pellegrini can come back from his loan at Cagliari with renewed optimism of breaking into the Roma first team.

The results

As mentioned above, the changes Roma made had an immediate positive effect. The season ended with a second place finish in the league and a run to the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia, where they lost on aggregate to Napoli despite a first leg win.

Several of the new signings strengthened the side, with Benatia, Gervinho, Destro, Skorupski and Strootman all being sold for profit in the future. Destro was Roma’s top scorer in his debut year, Strootman was magnificent, and De Sanctis became a reliable number one.

Even some of the outgoings worked in Roma’s favour. Lamela has been injury prone at Tottenham Hotspur, Stekelenburg has never really played regularly since leaving, and Osvaldo, most bizarrely of all, has quit football altogether to become a musician.

Despite all the turbulence, things worked out well in the end – at least in the short-term. So, even though the picture remains unclear in the present day, perhaps there is hope that Roma can recover next year, and return to where they should be. The big decisions must be made now.

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