It still all feels a bit like a weird dream, but Jose Mourinho is the new manager of AS Roma.
The timing of the announcement means that the shockwaves have subsided a touch, but they’ll only regenerate once the Portuguese coach sinks his teeth into the transfer market.
There is plenty of work to be done on this Giallorossi side, but the former Tottenham Hotspur coach also possesses some exciting talents to mould and hopefully not ridicule into oblivion.
Roma’s new owners will also be looking to make a statement in the summer window, so all signs point towards a busy few months in the Italian capital.
But how will Roma line up come the first whistle of the 2021/22 Serie A campaign? 90min has a crack at predicting just how Mourinho’s men will set up next year.
Rui Patricio (GK) – Priority number one for Mourinho is finding a new number one. Pau Lopez has proven himself to be a calamitous liability this season, and his lack of mental strength makes him a sitting duck for the ruthless Roma boss. The new coach fancies Wolves shot-stopper Rui Patricio, and given the Portuguese connection, it could happen.
Rick Karsdorp (RB) – We can just picture Rick Karsdorp and Mourinho getting on like a house on fire – and they’d be the ones committing the arson together. The Dutchman is a full-blooded, 110% committed defender, and occasionally allows the odd screw to come loose. He’ll run through brick walls for Mou and that loyalty will be repaid in game time.
Gianluca Mancini (CB) – See above. Gianluca Mancini is a leader in this Roma squad, and his love for the physical and mental side of warfare will play perfectly into his coach’s hands. The Italian is a top quality defender, and he’ll continue to be just that under his new boss.
Roger Ibanez (CB) – Roma possess a real gem in the form of Roger Ibanez. The Brazilian is an excellent ball-playing defender, and although he suffered the odd lapse in concentration last year, there is a top centre-back in there, just waiting to be polished. Please don’t permanently taint him, Jose.
Leonardo Spinazzola (LB) – It’s mad that Roma conceded 58 goals last year, yet on paper, their defence is so strong. Leonardo Spinazzola was arguably the most important player in Paulo Fonseca’s system, but will he survive the shift from wing-back to left-back? Time will tell, but for the moment, he can’t be shifted.
Renato Sanches (CM) – Now for another juicy one. Renato Sanches must feel he’s achieved all he can with Lille – having just won Ligue 1 with the French outfit – and will fancy his chances at a return to a European giant. Roma would offer the big bucks, and Mourinho would be the sweetener in the deal. Time to fulfil your potential, son.
Jordan Veretout (CM) – This guy is an elite midfielder. Jordan Veretout is the ultimate Mourinho soldier, and he’ll be the Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg of the Italian capital. He loves a battle, gets stuck in and can really drive the team forward. A star.
Lorenzo Pellegrini (AM) – Il Capitano. Lorenzo Pellegrini is Roma’s leader, and he served up his best season in a Giallorossi jersey last year. He can go into hiding in big games, so he is at risk of becoming one of Mourinho’s scapegoats. But if he grows to become a true Roman gladiator, Jose can push him to achieve greatness. Let’s hope.
Nicolo Zaniolo (RW) – Two sickening anterior cruciate ligament injuries have cost Nicolo Zaniolo 18 months of action, but the forward has been grafting to get back to full fitness. The starlet is hungrier than ever to succeed, and his tunnel-vision mentality will convince Mourinho to trust and unleash the special talent he possesses.
Andrea Belotti (ST) – Il Galloooo! Andrea ‘the Rooster’ Belotti is a target for Roma this summer, and the feeling is, what Mourinho wants, Mourinho will get with the new owners. Belotti has been a consistent scorer in a poor Torino team in recent years, and he deserves a move up the Serie A table. Fingers crossed we see that iconic celebration in the red and yellow next season.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (LW) – There has been some tension between Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mourinho in the past, but the Portuguese boss convinced the Armenian train that he is part of his plans next season, and so put pen to paper on a new deal. Mkhi was Roma’s standout performer last year, and he’ll be hoping to be given the freedom to express himself in a similar manner in 2021/22.