‘I Can Be A Successful Coach’, Thierry Henry Reveals Five Offers

Belgium Promote Thierry Henry To Assistant Coach
Belgium’s assistant coach Thierry Henry plays with the ball during a training session of Belgium’s national football team at the Guchkovo Stadium in Dedovsk, outside Moscow. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

France football legend Thierry Henry is keen for another chance to prove he can be a successful manager despite his unhappy brief tenure at Ligue 1 side Monaco.

The 42-year-old — Arsenal’s record goalscorer — told the Daily Telegraph that although his phone did not ring for four months following his sacking, things have picked up since then and he has received five offers.

Henry’s dream return last October to manage Monaco, the club where he established his reputation as a top-class striker, turned into a nightmare.

READ ALSO: Coutinho Will Not Start For Bayern On Saturday – Kovac

Having been part of Belgium manager Roberto Martinez’s backroom team at the World Cup — where they reached the semi-finals — he lasted just over 100 days after only four league wins.

“Call me crazy if you want, but I love football and I believe I can be a successful coach,” he said.

“I’m not thinking about the pain, I’m not thinking about failure. I don’t like easy.

“I like to lead and it’s on me to make it happen. The same when I joined Arsenal as a player, the same when I went to Belgium with Roberto. It’s an evolution.”

 ‘Communication and honesty’ 

Henry, who was a member of the France squads that won both the 1998 World Cup and the Euro 2000 title, said although he has been contacted over jobs, he has yet to find the right fit.

“My phone didn’t ring for four months after I left Monaco and then all of a sudden I got five calls,” he said.

“Some were not what I was looking for and some were as a number two.”

“I won’t do a number two job because I want to be number one.”

Henry, who has spoken with basketball and athletics coaches since being fired to gain extra insight into coaching top-level athletes, says it is frustrating having to wait around for another opportunity but he is convinced football coaching is where his future lies.

“I came out of it fully reassured that’s what I want to do, zero doubt about it,” he said.

All Henry asks is for transparency from his employers.

“Communication and honesty from the start are key,” he said.

“What’s the job? Is the job to stay up, is the job to win the League or be in the Champions League?

“But how and what is a success? Is a success in improving players? Ultimately, the results are the most important thing, but I want to improve players as well.”

AFP

Inzaghi Renews Lazio Contract Amid Juve Rumour

Simone Inzaghi, head coach of SS Lazio, before the Serie A football match between Torino FC and SS Lazio at Olympic Grande Torino Stadium on May 25, 2019 in Turin, Italy. Credit: Massimiliano Ferraro/NurPhoto)

 

Simone Inzaghi has extended his contract as coach with Lazio until 2021, the Serie A club confirmed on Thursday.

“The decision to continue this journey together is the result of shared planning, strengthens the bond between the two parties and confirms the unity of intent needed to achieve our sporting objectives,” the team said in a statement.

Inzaghi, who played as a striker for 11 years with Lazio and won the club’s last Serie A title in 2000, took over as coach in 2016.

The 43-year-old won his first major trophy as a coach in this year’s Coppa Italia and had been linked to the vacant coaching positions at champions Juventus and AC Milan.

Lazio finished eighth in Serie A this season but qualified for the Europa League as Coppa Italia winners.

AFP

Stuttgart Name Tim Walter As New Coach

Then head coach of Second Division Bundesliga football club Holstein Kiel Tim Walter during the Second Division Bundesliga football match Holstein Kiel vs Dynamo Dresden in Kiel.  Axel Heimken / DPA / AFP

 

Relegation-threatened Bundesliga club VfB Stuttgart announced Monday that current Holstein Kiel boss Tim Walter will take over as head coach at the end of the season.

Walter, 43, led Kiel to sixth in the second division this season and has now signed a two-year deal to become the long-term successor to former Stuttgart boss Markus Weinzierl, who was sacked in April.

READ ALSO: Buhari Congratulates Super Falcons On WAFU Women’s Cup Victory

“Tim Walter’s idea of brave, attacking football fits Stuttgart brilliantly,” said Stuttgart sporting director Thomas Hitzlsperger.

“Together, we want to place more focus on our own youth players.”

Walter, who worked as a youth coach at Bayern Munich and Karlsruhe before taking over at Kiel last year, will take over after Stuttgart’s fate is decided in the relegation play-off next week.

Interim coach Nico Willig will remain in charge for the play-off games on Thursday and Monday, as Stuttgart look to avoid the drop against promotion hopefuls Union Berlin.

AFP

Valverde’s Job On The Line After Another Champions League ‘Disaster’

Barcelona’s Spanish coach Ernesto Valverde gestures during the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg football match between Liverpool and Barcelona at Anfield in Liverpool, northwest England on May 7, 2019. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Barcelona and Lionel Messi walked out at Anfield as probable for a Champions League, Cup, and Liga treble but walked off with coach Ernesto Valverde possibly facing the sack. 

Shortly after their 4-0 capitulation on Tuesday which sent Liverpool through to the Champions League final on the back one of the competition’s greatest ever comebacks, Barca president Josep Bartomeu dodged guaranteeing the future of his coach Ernesto Valverde.

“We are all very emotional now because of the elimination,” said Bartomeu. “We have to raise our spirits because there is a Copa del Rey final to come. There will be difficult days for everyone but we have to lift our heads.”

Another Cup final to erase the disappointment of another failure in the Champions League except, just like last year, even a domestic double will not come close.

READ ALSO: Never-Say-Die Spirit Propels Liverpool To The Brink Of Glory

It was supposed to be the season Barcelona laid to rest the ghost of the Stadio Olimpico, where they inexplicably conceded three in Rome, one year after they let in three in Turin, two years after they were stunned in Madrid.

Three consecutive quarter-final defeats, all away from home.

This was one stage further and Liverpool were more capable than Roma, Juventus or Atletico but Barca’s latest loss was the worst of them all.

“We ask for forgiveness because even after Rome, it happened again,” said Sergio Busquets.

They had won La Liga on April 27, with three games to spare, when Bartomeu said: “Our target is the treble”.

If it felt like the president was denying his team the chance to celebrate, it was because La Liga, which Barcelona have now won eight times in 11 years, is no longer enough.

“Making the extraordinary normal,” it said on the players’ victory t-shirts.

 ‘That beautiful cup’ 

To be extraordinary, Barca had to deliver in Europe where, unlike in Spain, their record diminishes their impact on this era which, for many, at least in terms of style and talent, is tinted in red and blue.

This has been Messi’s era too, but not in the Champions League, where he owns four titles, one fewer than Cristiano Ronaldo and equal to most of the squad of Real Madrid.

Some of Barcelona’s players joked their captain had cranked up the pressure when he pledged in August to bring “that beautiful cup” back to Camp Nou.

But the expectation and the armband seemed to bring the best out of Messi, 12 goals his second best ever return in the tournament and only a couple short of his highest tally in 2012.

His last two left Liverpool three down and surely out, even if the score flattered Barca and overlooked what had been their fiercest opponent all season.

It should have been enough. Valverde had rested all 11 of his first-leg starters against Celta Vigo on Saturday just as Liverpool, with seven of the same 11, were churning out a win over Newcastle.

Liverpool should have been exhausted, without two of their first-choice forwards, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, both injured.

Barca should have been prepared too, their memories of the past three seasons painful enough to prevent complacency and recent enough to harden their resolve against the inevitable onslaught of Anfield.

Instead, they crumbled, unable to find that stubbornness that has carried Madrid, a less coherent team, to success again and again in the Champions League.

“I do not know how it’s going to affect me,” Valverde said. “But here we are, the coach has to take responsibility.”

There will be calls for change, particularly from those fans who have never been convinced by Valverde, suspicious of his more pragmatic tendencies and, perhaps, underwhelmed by his placid approach.

Valverde signed a new contract in February, albeit only until 2020, and, out of Europe, he boasts a record that is almost faultless.

If he was to leave in the summer, he could depart having won consecutive doubles, lost two games in the Champions League and only four in La Liga, with half of those coming after the title was already secured.

This season, Barcelona have been brilliant, sitting nine points ahead of Atletico Madrid and 15 clear of Real, who they were 17 better than last year too.

“No way,” said Luis Suarez, when asked if the coach was to blame. “The players are the ones who were on the field. If his approach was good in the first leg, it was good again now.”

But the Champions League was the one they wanted, and the objective was the treble.

“There will be time to reflect,” said Bartomeu. “For the second year in a row, it’s a disastrous night.”

AFP

Cannavaro Resigns As China’s Coach After Two Matches

China’s new head coach Fabio Cannavaro reacts during the 2019 China Cup third-place play-off football match between China and Uzbekistan in Nanning in China’s southern Guangxi region on March 25, 2019. STR / AFP

 

Italian World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro on Sunday quit as coach of China after just two matches in charge, both 1-0 home defeats.

It will increase speculation that his mentor and fellow Italian Marcello Lippi is in line to make a shock return, just three months after he left.

The 45-year-old Cannavaro made the announcement on social media and said it was to focus on his family and his job as coach of Chinese Super League (CSL) side Guangzhou Evergrande.

READ ALSO: Thiem Sweeps Past Medvedev For Barcelona Title

“With due respect for China as a great country, I feel it’s necessary to announce my decision to give up my position as the Chinese men’s coach,” Cannavaro wrote on China’s Twitter-like Weibo.

Cannavaro was appointed Lippi’s successor in mid-March and there was speculation that the China Cup was an audition for the post long term.

If that was the case, former Real Madrid and Juventus defender Cannavaro failed the test, losing 1-0 to Thailand and going down to Uzbekistan by the same flat scoreline.

The 71-year-old Lippi stood down as China coach following a 3-0 defeat to Iran in the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup in January but had stayed on as an adviser to Cannavaro.

China’s government under football-fan President Xi Jinping has grand ambitions of hosting and even winning a World Cup one day.

But that appeared further away than ever during Cannavaro’s short stint, after which China slumped to 74th in the FIFA rankings, a rung above Cape Verde — population 550,000 to China’s 1.4 billion.

In his statement, Cannavaro said that the Chinese Football Association and Evergrande “both wanted me to coach the two most important teams in China at the same time.

“But the dual position has left me with no time for my family.”

Cannavaro was one of the finest defenders of his generation and lifted the World Cup as skipper of Italy in 2006 when Lippi was a coach.

But he has not reached the same heights as a coach and last season Evergrande surrendered their seven-year stranglehold on the CSL to Shanghai SIPG in Cannavaro’s first season at the helm.

His appointment as China coach six weeks ago was not universally welcomed by fans or media, with some saying that he had not proved himself as a manager.

In contrast, Lippi is held in high regard despite China improving only marginally during his more than two years in charge.

There is widespread acceptance that, with the exception of Espanyol forward Wu Lei, China simply do not have the players to do a lot better.

If Lippi does return — as Italian and Chinese media have speculated — his job will be to guide China to a World Cup for just the second time.

Their only previous appearance came in 2002 when they lost all three games and failed to score.

AFP

Walton Sued For Alleged Sexual Assault

Head coach Luke Walton of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the first half of the game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. (file photo) Yong Teck Lim / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

NBA head coach Luke Walton is being sued by a woman who alleges he forced himself on her at a Santa Monica, California hotel, according to US media reports Monday.

Celebrity news outlet TMZ reported Walton had invited the woman, a sports reporter, to meet him at his hotel to discuss a book she was writing.

Citing court documents, it said the woman alleged Walton, with whom she had a previous business relationship, convinced her to go to his room and forced himself on her.

READ ALSO: Liverpool Great Fowler Gets Coaching Job

There, according to the lawsuit, he allegedly pinned her to the bed, kissed and groped her while she resisted, TMZ said.

It added the lawsuit says he eventually stopped and let her go but, as she walked away, grabbed her from behind and pulled her close — before eventually allowing her to leave.

Now, coach of the Sacramento Kings, Walton was let go by the Lakers last week after coaching them for several seasons.

The Lakers issued a statement on Monday night saying they had no previous knowledge of the allegations.

“This alleged incident took place before Luke Walton was the Head Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers,” a team spokesman said.

“At no time before or during his employment here was this allegation reported to the Lakers. If it had been, we would have immediately commenced an investigation and notified the NBA.”

AFP

Ex-Italy Striker Montella Returns As Fiorentina Coach

Vincenzo Montella/ AFP

 

Vincenzo Montella has returned for a second stint as coach of mid-table Serie A side Fiorentina, the Italian club announced on Wednesday.

Montella previously coached the Tuscany outfit from 2012 to 2015, leading them to three consecutive fourth-place finishes and the Europa League semi-finals.

Stefano Pioli resigned as coach on Tuesday as the club sit 10th in Serie A with seven games to play.

READ ALSO: Maradona Wishes Pele Speedy Recovery

Fiorentina confirmed Montella had signed a contract until June 30, 2021, and would be unveiled later on Wednesday.

After leaving Fiorentina, Montella went on to manage Sampdoria and AC Milan, but has been out of coaching since being sacked by Spanish club Sevilla last April.

Fiorentina’s hopes of qualifying for next season’s Europa League have plummeted as they are 12 points off the second-tier European competition.

The team have just one win from their last 10 Serie A games but are still in the chase for the Italian Cup, playing Atalanta in the semi-final return leg on April 25, having drawn 3-3 in the away leg.

Montella’s first match back at the Stadio Artemio Franchi will be against Bologna on Sunday.

AFP

Sevilla Coach Caparros Vows To Continue Job Despite Leukaemia Diagnosis

Sevilla’s Spanish coach Joaquin Caparros looks on before the Spanish league football match between Sevilla FC and Deportivo Alaves at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in Seville on April 4, 2019. JORGE GUERRERO / AFP

 

Sevilla coach Joaquin Caparros announced on Sunday that he has chronic leukaemia but says the condition is under control and will not prevent him continuing in his job. 

The 63-year-old, who took over last month after Pablo Machin was sacked, was speaking after Sevilla’s 2-0 victory over Real Valladolid in La Liga.

“I have chronic leukaemia,” Caparros said in the post-match press conference. “I have caught it early and can live a normal life.

“I want to enjoy my job and for everyone to stay calm. I’ve had no treatment and am grateful for the club giving me the opportunity [to continue coaching].”

READ ALSO: Arsenal Still Control Top-Four Race, Says Emery

Previously Sevilla’s sporting director, Caparros is now acting as coach until the end of the season, with the team winning four of his six games in charge so far.

Another former Sevilla coach, Eduardo Berizzo, announced in November 2017 that he was suffering from prostate cancer. He was sacked a month later following a string of bad results.

The victory over Valladolid moved Sevilla up to fifth in the table after two goals in the final six minutes from Roque Mesa Quevedo and Munir El Haddadi.

They are now only a point behind Getafe, who they play later this month after a crunch derby at home to Real Betis next weekend.

“My goal is the Champions League, that’s very clear,” Caparros said. “That is our objective and we are going to do everything we can to achieve it.”

Getafe kept their own remarkable bid for Champions League qualification on track by edging past Athletic Bilbao 1-0, Angel Rodriguez Diaz on target to seal his side’s first win in four games.

Alaves were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Leganes while Huesca scored two of three goals in six second-half minutes away to Levante, but it was only enough for a 2-2 draw.

Despite signs of a revival in recent weeks, Huesca remain six points adrift of safety while Levante sit three clear of 18th-placed Villarreal, who play away to Real Betis later on Sunday.

AFP

‘Good Signs’ For Ronaldo Ahead Of Ajax Clash – Allegri

Ronaldo, Zapata Lock Horns As Juventus Tackle Atalanta In Coppa Italia
Juventus’ Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo/ AFP

 

Cristiano Ronaldo could be back in the Juventus line-up in time for their Champions League quarter-final with Ajax, coach Massimiliano Allegri revealed on Friday.

Ronaldo hasn’t played for the runaway Serie A leaders since scoring the sensational hat-trick that saw Juve come back from a 2-0 first-leg deficit to knock out Atletico Madrid last month.

He was rested in the subsequent 2-0 league defeat at Genoa and then picked up a thigh injury on international duty with Portugal last week, but Allegri is confident the 34-year-old will be ready for Wednesday’s first leg in Amsterdam.

“There are good signals from Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of the match with Ajax,” he said to reporters ahead of Saturday’s visit of fourth-placed AC Milan.

Ronaldo will however not be ready for Milan, who are battling to qualify for next season’s Champions League, after missing recent wins over Empoli and Cagliari, the latter of which was overshadowed by racist abuse directed at young Italy striker Moise Kean.

READ ALSO: Brazilian Legend Pele ‘Improving’ In Paris Hospital

Kean’s Juve and Italy teammate Leonardo Bonucci was heavily criticised in the aftermath of that match for saying that Kean was as to blame for the monkey chants to which he was subjected as the Cagliari supporters, comments for which he apologised on Thursday.

“Racism must always be fought against. It can never be justified,” said Allegri.

“Bonucci, with his mind still on the game, expressed himself badly but immediately apologised and explained what he meant.”

Juve are 18 points clear of nearest challengers Napoli having lost just once this season and will win their eighth title in a row with seven matches to spare at the weekend if they beat Milan and Napoli lose to Genoa.

Should they win it either this weekend or next it would be the earliest any team has ever won Serie A, and would allow them to focus even more on winning their first Champions League since 1996.

“We’ll only celebrate when we win the title. Winning eight in a row is never easy, in particular with these numbers,” said Allegri, who has won four straight league and cup doubles with Juve and taken them to two Champions League finals.

“Napoli are having a season with what would often be title-winning form, but we’re doing something extraordinary.”

AFP

Southgate Rules Out England Exit Before Euro 2020

England’s manager Gareth Southgate (C) talks to England’s defender John Stones (L) and England’s defender Kyle Walker. Credit: Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Gareth Southgate has no plans to leave the England job before Euro 2020 but admits his future is uncertain after that.

Southgate led England to their first World Cup semi-final appearance since 1990 during a memorable run in Russia last year.

That was a huge boost to his reputation and England’s progress to the inaugural Nations League Finals later this year is another feather in his cap.

The 48-year-old was linked with Manchester United before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s remarkable impact as interim boss effectively took him out of contention for the Old Trafford post.

But Southgate, whose contract runs until 2022, said he would not have walked out on the chance to manage England in a major tournament on home soil, with several matches in Euro 2020 being staged at Wembley.

“Well, first and foremost, I love the job I’m in,” Southgate said when asked about the link to United.

READ ALSO: Real Madrid Sign Brazilian Defender Militao In €50m Deal

“I’m proud to be England manager. We’ve got a second semi-final coming this summer and a Euros at home — well, I say at home, the group stage is at home — so there is no way I’d be walking away from this.”

Southgate was less definitive when the question of his long-term future came up, hinting he would like another crack at a big club job after his disappointing spell as Middlesbrough boss.

“After those Euros, people might want me or might not want me, here or somewhere else,” he said.

“You can’t look too far ahead in football. You’re quite right, I’m contracted to 2022 — or whenever that World Cup will finish. I don’t look any further than that.

“I’m sure at some point in my life, I’ll want to go back to club football because people will say, ‘oh well he did OK as an international manager, but he didn’t work as a club manager’.

“How could you when you step out the dressing room? What do you know, really, two years into your coaching career?

“I think at this point, at some stage in the distant future, I would want to do that, but I actually don’t know, because there might be something else more important in my life and I might be doing something completely different. I think it’s too hard.”

Southgate has not worked as a club boss since being sacked by Middlesbrough soon after their 2009 relegation from the Premier League.

Aware of the unpredictability of management, former England, Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough defender does not have a clear plan for his next move yet.

“I’ve never quite understood in this game, people who have a coaching plan or a plan of where they want to go because I didn’t expect to be the manager of Middlesbrough two days before I got offered it,” he added.

“I didn’t expect to be England senior manager six hours before I was offered it.”

AFP

Zidane Risks Reputation To Usher In New Era At Real Madrid

Real Madrid’s French coach Zinedine Zidane attends a training session during Real Madrid’s Media Open Day ahead of their UEFA Champions league final footbal match against Liverpool FC, in Madrid.  GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

Zinedine Zidane stood for 29 minutes fielding questions but all of them really came down to two: Why now? And, what next? 

In a packed auditorium in the belly of the Santiago Bernabeu on Monday night, Raul and Roberto Carlos took their seats in the front row while journalists squeezed up against the walls, an hour and a half after the official announcement.

Santiago Solari had been sacked as coach of Real Madrid and in his place, Zidane would return, 284 days after he had left.

On May 31 last year, sitting next to the club’s president Florentino Perez, Zidane had said the team would not keep winning with him in charge.

They failed to win without him, first under Julen Lopetegui, the sacked Spain coach, and then Solari, the interim-turned-permanent coach, who watched on as Madrid’s season went up in smoke in six days.

Solari’s exit was inevitable but the idea any suitable replacement would take over for 11 La Liga games, with nothing to preside over except the aftermath of a crisis, seemed fanciful.

“When the president called me the first thing I thought was: go,” said Zidane. Which begs the question: what has changed?

Rest may have refreshed motivation, particularly for Zidane, who said himself, “I have never been far away”.

He has stayed in Madrid and attended a handful of matches, while three of his sons still play for the club at various levels.

For him, the move back might have been less of a leap than it seems from the outside.

Yet the greatest lure may be that the team has been failing. For the best coaches, and players, there is always self-belief, a sense that no problem is too big to solve.

Zidane knew he would return with more authority than ever, far more even than after he had hoisted a third consecutive Champions League trophy.

The suspicion then was that he was just a face, a popular manager to keep the ship steady while star players engineered their own success.

As two coaches came and went, Zidane’s stock rose with every chance missed, every seat left empty and every point that Barcelona moved further away.

“I returned because the president called me. I love him and I love this club,” he said. “We will change things, for sure, for the years to come.”

Zidane could have waited until the summer but the job might not have been available. Jose Mourinho, speaking on his increasingly regular public appearances, seemed eager.

Perez was under fire from all directions, from the fans, many of whom blamed the board more than Solari in the newspaper polls, and from the players, led by Sergio Ramos.

“The problem is bad planning,” Ramos reportedly shot back during a heated argument with Perez following last week’s defeat to Ajax.

 ‘New golden era’

A new coach could ease the pressure and one like Zidane, remove it almost completely.

“We need to start working on a new glorious era,” said Perez. “That is why we welcome back Zinedine Zidane.”

Zidane has three months to decide what needs changing. He arrives under no illusions. Madrid triumphed in Europe but in La Liga last season, Barcelona finished 17 points ahead. Now the gap is 12.

“I don’t forget what we won but I also don’t forget the bad things we did all together last year,” he said.

The temptation might be to discard a lot and spend even more, but the challenge for Zidane is to find the balance between reform and revolution. A fresh start could bring ousted players in from the cold while progress made by talented youngsters like Vinicius Junior, Sergio Reguilon and Marcos Llorente could quickly be lost.

Ronaldo has gone and, while it was unavoidable the team would miss him, others have struggled to fill the void.

Gareth Bale and Zidane were barely speaking during the second half of last season and Bale is understood to be less than enthused by the Frenchman’s return. A clean slate is possible but a parting appears more likely.

Decisions will need to be made too on Marcelo and Isco, who have both endured torrid seasons, while Keylor Navas was once a favourite of Zidane’s, which could spell trouble for Thibaut Courtois. Luka Modric, heavily linked with a move to Italy last summer, may feel it is time for something new.

Zidane’s biggest gain is Vinicius, who may not take play again this season as he recovers from an ankle injury, but whose emergence has been Madrid’s one shining light.

The 18-year-old has flourished through on the left of a front three, which puts any move for Chelsea’s Eden Hazard in a sticky spot. Neymar or Kylian Mbappe of Paris Saint-Germain will again be touted.

“I would like them both,” Perez said playfully on Monday.

For now though, Real face Celta Vigo on Saturday, with a squad reunited and spirits lifted. It is like Zidane has never been away.

AFP

Roma Sack Coach Eusebio Di Francesco

Roma’s coach Eusebio Di Francesco/ AFP

 

Eusebio Di Francesco has been sacked as Roma coach after the team crashed out of the Champions League, the Italian club confirmed on Thursday.

Roma had taken a 2-1 advantage to Porto for the second leg of their last-16 tie on Wednesday but fell 4-3 on aggregate after a controversial penalty awarded following a VAR review deep into extra time.

“AS Roma can confirm head coach Eusebio Di Francesco has left the club with immediate effect,” the team said in a statement.

READ ALSO: Messi Returns To Argentina Team After Eight-Month Absence

“The club would like to thank Eusebio for his work during his time at AS Roma and wish him success in the future.”

An urgent meeting had been called on Thursday afternoon in Rome between the club’s top officials to discuss Di Francesco’s future.

Club president Jim Pallotta later said: “On behalf of myself and everyone at AS Roma, I’d like to thank Eusebio for his work and his commitment.

“Since returning to the club, Eusebio has always acted professionally and put the club’s needs ahead of his own. We all wish him well for the future.”

Former Sassuolo boss Di Francesco took over in June 2017.

A former Roma midfielder, he had helped the team to their last Serie A title as a player in 2001.

The 49-year-old led Roma to the Champions League semi-finals last season for the first time since 1984, following an epic 3-0 comeback against Barcelona in the quarter-finals.

“Di Francesco will remain the coach who took Roma to the Champions League semi-finals after who knows how many years and he deserves credit for that,” said captain Daniele De Rossi.

“I know this isn’t our best season and the job of a coach will always be tied to results.”

The club finished third last season but this campaign has been marked by struggles with Di Francesco apologising to fans but refusing to resign after a humiliating 7-1 defeat to Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia quarter-finals last month.

Roma are now fifth in Serie A, three points off the Champions League berths for next season, after falling 3-0 last weekend to bitter city rivals Lazio.

 Ranieri ‘ready’ 

Ranieri, who memorably guided Leicester City to the 2016 Premier League title before being sacked the following season, coached Roma from September 2009 to February 2011.

The 67-year-old Italian’s brief spell as manager of Premier League strugglers Fulham ended last month after only four months in charge.

“Ranieri is ready,” wrote Gazzetta Dello Sport, adding that the former Roma boss was expected to travel to the Italian capital from London by Friday at the latest.

Other reported contenders are former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte and his Stamford Bridge successor Maurizio Sarri.

Ranieri has had a long coaching career in Italy with clubs including Juventus, Inter Milan and Napoli. He coached French club Nantes before taking over at Fulham in November 2018, only to be sacked on February 28.

During his time in charge of Roma, he oversaw 84 matches — winning 47, with 16 draws and 21 defeats.

Di Francesco has coached Roma for 87 games with 46 victories, 18 draws and 23 defeats.

The Champions League exit, however, was the final straw for American businessman Pallotta who had raged at VAR after the defeat.

The tie hinged on a decision by Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir to point to the spot late in extra time upon reviewing an incident in which Alessandro Florenzi hauled back Porto forward Fernando.

Alex Telles converted the spot-kick, and Roma were then denied a penalty at the other end following a review after Patrik Schick tumbled to the ground.

“Last year we asked for VAR in the Champions League because we got screwed in the semi-final and tonight, they’ve got VAR and we still get robbed,” said Pallotta on Twitter.

“Patrik Schick was clearly clipped in the box, VAR shows it, and nothing is given. I’m tired of this crap. I give up.”

AFP