Former Roma manager Claudio Ranieri coy on links over return to Serie A club
Roma have won one and lost two of their opening five Serie A games under Eusebio Di Francesco
Last Updated: 24/09/18 3:27pm
Former Roma player and coach Claudio Ranieri remained tight-lipped on Monday amid talk he could be in line to replace under-fire Eusebio Di Francesco at the club.
The club's billionaire American owner James Pallotta said he was "disgusted" after the Serie A side plunged to 14th with a 2-0 loss at Bologna.
Ranieri, led Leicester City to the English Premier League title in 2016, but has been without a club since leaving Ligue 1 club Nantes by mutual consent in 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.
Brazil goalkeeper Alisson moved to Liverpool during the summer with Belgian midfielder Radja Nainggolan going to Inter and Netherlands 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."