The 2022-23 season ended in bitter disappointment for AS Roma and their manager José Mourinho. The club lost to Sevilla in the UEFA Europa League final on penalties and failed to qualify for the UEFA Champions League next season as they finished 6th in Serie A. There have also been a lot of conversations around the future of Mourinho but it seemingly looks like he is staying put as he gestured to the Giallorossi fans that he is indeed staying during the final game of the season against Spezia.
However, should the Special One stick around, it is likely that AS Roma will have to back him in the transfer market. This presents its own set of problems as the club has been sanctioned for breaching the Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules and regulations. They will once again dip into the Mercato by going after free agents and loan signings while finding creative ways of acquiring new players.
With that said Roma could still improve their squad ahead of next season. There are a whole host of players who are free agents and could be brought into the club if Tiago Pinto, the general manager, and Mourinho convince them of the project. According to reports, Houssem Aouar and Evan Ndicka are two free agents that Roma has contacted and are ready to join the team in the upcoming weeks. The former, especially, seems to have his medical scheduled as he has been linked with the Giallorossi for years now. These two undisputedly shore up the midfield and defence of Roma and would be welcome additions by Mourinho.
But with Tammy Abraham out for a considerable period of time due to the ACL injury, he picked up in the last game of the season, Roma will have to go into the market looking for a bonafide striker, somebody who can get the likes of Dybala into play while also managing to get goals himself. Could a certain Roberto Firmino be that guy?
While we are assuming that Mourinho continues to stick to the current 3-5-2 formation, bringing in the likes of Firmino, Aouar and Ndicka already means the team has improved. The midfield already looks more potent and lively with Aouar and Pellegrini and this will certainly ease the creative workload on the latter. Cristante is more than good enough as a deputy and could step in whenever needed. Ndicka provides competition for the backline and could even usurp one of them to a starting role during the season, especially considering how they will be playing Europa League football again which means mid-week games will be on a Thursday. Firmino is a free agent and the club seems to have triggered an extension in Andrea Belotti’s contract. These two will have to carry the mantle in the absence of Abraham who, according to reports, is out until at least December.
Despite Abraham suffering a gruelling unfortunate injury, he was the subject of plenty of transfer rumours throughout the season, despite not scoring many goals. Should Roma be looking to move him on, as brutal as that sounds considering the injury, he will bring in desperately needed funds to the club. Chelsea needs a striker and has inserted a buy-back clause of €80million which comes into effect this July, according to reports. The club has also been rumoured to welcome bids for the likes of Roger Ibańez and Leandro Spinazzola. The possible sale of these three players will influx cash into the club that could be then used to go after signings.
Another way that Roma and Mourinho could lineup next season is if the Special One decides to reinstate his preferred formation, i.e. 4-2-3-1, something he has done in every club he’s managed. Defensive lapses of this team are what prompted José to switch to back three, but considering how this team struggles to score goals, primarily due to poor finishing, perhaps the thought of reverting back to his usual formation must have gone through his mind.
While the same signings work for both formations, Roma will need a bonafide left winger if they are to play a back four. With not many free agents on the market, could Mourinho reunite with Eden Hazard at the capital club? The duo led Chelsea to the 2014-15 Premier League title and won another trophy that season. However, things ended incredibly sour with Mourinho being sacked in December 2015 after the club found itself flirting with a possible relegation battle. Hazard severely underperformed that year and there were rumours of a rift between the two. With that said Hazard could be a cheap solution to Roma’s problems on the left flank. He is without a club after Real Madrid terminated his contract and is worth taking a punt on as the leverage in contract situations is with Roma and not the player.
Alternatively, the club could also go after the likes of Jonathan Bamba or Wilfried Zaha. However, reports have emerged that the latter is very close to signing for Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr and joining Cristiano Ronaldo in the middle east.
Either way, with José Mourinho most likely staying with the Giallorossi, the club has to find creative ways to get their transfer targets and improve the starting eleven while also adding squad depth and keeping the core players intact. Should they satisfy their manager, then Roma could very well be genuine contenders for Serie A and the Europa League.