ROME: Roma are the latest club wondering how to persuade Pep Guardiola to scrap plans for a football sabbatical once his Barcelona duties end after the Spanish cup final on May 25.

American owner Thomas DiBenedetto appointed Spaniard Luis Enrique, a former team-mate of Guardiola, last year when he could not obtain ‘the real thing.’ Now Luis Enrique has quit Roma eyes are back on Guardiola.

DiBenedetto is not alone.

Guardiola has been linked with Chelsea, most recently by Diego Maradona who commented from his current role in Dubai that he expects Roman Abramovich, owner of the Champions League finalists, to press his own case.

Confirmation of Luis Enrique’s departure was confirmed by Franco Baldini, Fabio Capello’s former aide in the England set-up and who stepped out last year to become director-general at Roma.

Luis Enrique’s fraught relationship with Roma fans’ icon Francesco Totti has marred his redevelopment plans and, apparently, worn him down.

Baldini said: “His work was good but at a certain point it wore him out and he felt the need to stop. He won’t be training anywhere next season. We invited him to take all the time he needed to decide, hoping right until the end that he would stay.

“The project hasn’t failed, we want to carry on playing a certain type of football, and the statistics show Roma are the team who have more possession than any other, third behind Juve and Milan for territorial dominance and passing accuracy.

“This says a lot about the quality of play. The failure has been how our league campaign went, but the style of play was want we wanted from the beginning.”

DiBenedetto’s ambition is to lift Roma on to national and international parity with Milan, Juventus and Internazionale. But 14 defeats left them seventh in Serie A ahead of today’s last game and their qualification for European competition in doubt.


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