'I can't stay at Roma like this' - Francesco Totti nears Roma exit as Spalletti sends him home
Il Re di Roma, Francesco Totti, has issued an ultimatum to his beloved Roma, claiming that he is unlikely to tolerate the manner in which his spell at the capital club is ending. Totti has struggled for game time under new boss Luciano Spalletti and revealed that the pair barely speak to each other, which has led to the Italian asking to be treated with ‘respect’.
Update: The drama surrounding Totti escalated at Roma’s training session ahead of their clash against Palermo. Spalletti told Totti that he’d been left out of the squad against Palermo, to which the Roma captain reacted badly, thus requiring Spalletti to send Totti home, so as to not affect team spirit before the game.
Totti made the startling comments while appearing on the TG1 news show on Italy’s national television network RAI, saying “I can’t stay at Roma like this. It hurts to be on the bench. I understand at my age that I play less, but ending my career like this is bad for me as a man and what I’ve given to Roma. I demand more respect for all I’ve done here.”
Ever since Spalletti started his second spell in charge of Roma, Totti has only appeared for 26 minutes of the manager’s six games in charge so far. The Roma captain came on for the Giallorossi in the 86th minute against Real Madrid with the game already lost, a rather humiliating run-out for a player who still considers himself fit enough to play.
Totti recently came back from a thigh injury after a three-month absence and voiced that he was fit to play, saying “I still feel like a player who is physically in good shape and I want to play. The injury is behind me now and if I don’t play it is purely down to a tactical decision.”
Relationship with Spalletti on the verge of breakdown
Luciano Spalletti famously reinvented Totti’s role in the Roma side in his first spell in charge of the Lupi, creating the false nine role that allowed Totti to flourish in the goalscoring charts. However, the duo have started off Spalletti’s second spell in decidedly adversarial fashion.
“I train Roma, not Totti”, was the Roma manager’s curt response when asked if the club legend would start against Real Madrid. Spalletti’s comments in the Italian press have also reinforced the notion that he considers Totti to not be part of his plans.
The Roman captain voiced his displeasure in the mixed zone following Roma’s defeat to Real Madrid, telling the press “You want to interview me? But I don’t count anymore” – with Spalletti in earshot glancing at him in annoyance.
Totti revealed the extent of the breakdown on the TG1 show, saying “What is my rapport like with Spalletti? We say ‘good morning’ and ‘good evening.’ That’s it. He said such nice things in the papers, but not to my face. I want things cleared up with Spalletti, because I’d rather he tell me certain things than me reading them in the paper. I respect him as a Coach and think he has what it takes to remain at Roma.”
Totti’s contract situation still remains vague
Totti’s contract with Roma ends in June, with many expecting that the Italian will hang up his boots in the summer. Totti’s wife, Italian TV personality, Ilary Blasi, earlier revealed that the Roma captain is probably playing his final season as a player, although Totti recently clarified that he considers himself fit to play for another couple of years.
The 39-year-old spoke about his future on TG1, saying “My contract expires in June, I await news from (President James) Pallotta and will evaluate the situation. I want things cleared up with Pallotta, as we will take about my contract when he arrives. I still feel as though I am a player. He will share his thoughts and I will share mine. I expect the fairness of people telling me the reality of the situation and how things really are.”
Italian football has had a recent spate of messing up the manner in which club legends have winded down their careers, as was the case of Alessandro del Piero, who was prepared to sign any deal Juventus offered him, but was left high and dry, thus precipitating his move abroad. Similarly, Javier Zanetti and Paolo Maldini have had unhappy sendoffs at Inter Milan and AC Milan, with the club stalwarts having issues with playing time and the fans.
It would be a shame if Totti were to suffer the same fate, but not altogether surprising, since football’s evolution into a results-first business.