Lazio appoint Ballardini as coach

ROME - Serie A side Lazio named former Palermo manager Davide Ballardini as their new coach on Tuesday. "Lazio must have a clear objective - to be competitive always," Ballardini told a news conference. "Lazio have the potential to do well but we have to show it." He succeeds Delio Rossi, whose four-year stint at the Rome club ended this month when he quit after winning the Italian Cup but finishing a disappointing 10th in Serie A. Ballardini will seek more consistency from a side with fine attacking talents, including Tommaso Rocchi, Pasquale Foggia and Argentine Mauro Zarate, for the domestic and Europa League campaigns. The 45-year-old may have to cope without two of the squad's best players, though, because Argentine midfielder Cristian Ledesma and Macedonia forward Goran Pandev have threatened to leave. "If a player leaves, another with just as much potential will arrive," he added. Ballardini led Palermo to an eighth-place finish last term but refused to stay on in Sicily after falling out with chairman Maurizio Zamparini, who brought in former Catania coach Walter Zenga to replace him. The appointment of Ballardini, who has also had two spells at Cagliari, means Siena are now the only Serie A side with doubts about who will be in charge next season. Coach Marco Giampaolo has asked to be released from his contract but the Tuscan club have said they want him to continue.