Milan - Former
Roma coach Claudio Ranieri remained tight-lipped on Monday amid talk
that he could be in line to replace under-fire Eusebio Di Francesco in
the Stadio Olimpico hotseat.
The club's billionaire American owner James Pallotta said he was
"disgusted" after the Serie A giants plunged to 14th with a 2-0 loss at
The 66-year-old Ranieri led Leicester City to the English Premier
League title in 2016, but has been without a club since leaving French
Ligue 1 club Nantes last May.
"I am a fan, Roma is in my heart, but I hope that Di Francesco can
move forward," Ranieri told Radio Anch'Io Sport when asked if he would
be interested in a move back to his hometown club.
Former defender Ranieri started his senior football career in Rome in
1973 and later coached the club for two years from 2009, just missing
out on the Serie A title in 2010.
"That Scudetto we lost in the last half-hour of the final day still
burns. I think about it often, although I partly redeemed myself at
Leicester," recalled the former Chelsea, Napoli and Inter Milan boss who
has said he is keen to continue in management.
Meanwhile, Ranieri believes Roma are paying the price for selling key
players, rather than blaming Di Francesco, 49, who took over in 2017
and led the team to third last season.
Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson moved to Liverpool during the summer
with Belgian midfielder Radja Nainggolan going to Inter and Dutch
midfielder Kevin Strootman to Marseille.
"Di Francesco is one of the best young coaches we have in Italy, for
reasons of financial fair play the team has been changed, three players
who were the backbone of Rome have been sold," he said.
"When a coach signs a contract, he'll know his team's philosophy.
"Di Francesco knew what he was signing up for.
"Roma have been selling their best players for years, although it's clear no-one expected the team to perform like they have.
"The players seem afraid of touching the ball, as if it's hot.
"The potential is there," added Ranieri, "but we must find the spark."
According to press reports, Di Francesco has been given two games to
save his job, starting against promoted Frosinone midweek, before the
city derby against Lazio at the weekend.
Former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has also been touted as a possible
replacement, along with Portuguese coach Paulo Sousa, who is currently
in charge of Chinese side Tianjin Quanjian.
Sousa coached Serie A side Fiorentina from 2015 to 2017.