Could US stars Bradley, Donovan be headed to Roma?
AMSTERDAM — Speaking exclusively to MLSsoccer.com, incoming AS Roma club president Thomas DiBenedetto has confirmed the club's summer intention to acquire a top American player in the transfer market.
The Boston native's takeover won't formally be approved until the end of the month, but he's already hatched a plan to add a US star to the roster with both performance and marketing attributes.
"We are obviously scouting players everywhere and we are obviously interested in the American products, both in MLS and abroad," DiBenedetto told MLSsoccer.com from Rome. "I obviously can't tell you any names, but we want only the best for our team."
The businessman, who is chairman of the takeover group and will become Roma president on June 10, is set to head the first American-owned club in Italy's honor division. Understanding the Eternal City's pressure to succeed, he wants to do the job right.
"We know that this is something unique in Italy, a first time," said DiBenedetto. "For this reason, we chose the best managers available, starting by the new sporting director, Mr. Walter Sabatini, a former SS Lazio and US Palermo director and an AS Roma player in the '70s."
Though he's unable to deal in the transfer market until the takeover is officially completed, MLSsoccer.com has learned that Sabatini started early homework for his new job by browsing American players.
Though things may change before any offer could be made, Roma's lead crushes are currently Borussia Mönchengladbach midfielder Michael Bradley (now on loan to Aston Villa) and LA Galaxy star Landon Donovan. Sabatini has also sized up the likes of New York Red Bulls forward Juan Agudelo, FC Nürnberg right-sider Timothy Chandler, Aston Villa 'keeper Brad Guzan and Anderlecht midfielder Sacha Kljestan.
Aside from this particular interest in shopping American talent, DiBenedetto also has an admiration for the league that helped produce most of the above products.
"We observe with a lot of interest the MLS business model," stated DiBenedetto, a friend of New England Revolution owner Robert Kraft. "Especially with regard to marketing in the local communities, the new soccer-specific stadiums and the league structure with a commissioner with real powers. And anyway, in MLS, there are some of the best businessmen in the world of sport."