AS Roma legend and 2006 World Cup winner with Italy, Francesco Totti is a wanted man among Indian Super League (ISL) clubs as the veteran striker prepares to cool off following the impending end of his 28-year association with Il Lupi.
Sources close to Totti have confirmed that a couple of ISL clubs have already approached the eternal Roma captain, and the ex-Italy forward is currently considering his options before committing his future to any club. Totti signed a new deal with Roma in June last year and that will end at the end of this month.
It is worth noting that two ISL clubs have already made contact with Totti. Should he put pen to paper to an ISL club's advances, Totti stands to become the most expensive ISL player ever. Pune City signed Kalu Uche for two million euros before ISL 2015, while Mumbai City made Diego Forlan the highest earning ISL player last season. A deal for Totti will set back any club by more than what Pune City and Mumbai City paid for Uche and Forlan respectively.
Totti aside, the likes of Dirk Kuyt and Eidur Gudjohnsen have also been sounded out by ISL outfits for the upcoming season. There will be plenty of novelties in the 2017-18 ISL campaign, not least the increase in the number of teams from eight to ten. Bengaluru FC and a team owned by Tata Steel will be the new ISL entrants, as the league confirmed yesterday.
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Totti's arrival in India is contingent on ISL clubs’ willingness to loosen their purse strings. According to the league's new regulations, the marquee player acquisition rule has reportedly been scrapped, thereby making it not mandatory for clubs to splash the cash on a spent force for brand publicity.
Having scored over 300 goals for Roma during his storied career, Totti will come in with a natural pedigree, something that sets him apart in modern day football. However, at 40, he would be one of the oldest outfielders in ISL and hence, clubs will be wary of spending a record sum of money for him.
That being said, Totti is still considering his options as he slips into the twilight of his playing career. Whether or not he turns out to be an inspired acquisition for an ISL club, Totti will be warmly embraced by his numerous fans in India. The sticking points, for now, are his big fee and the ISL's doing away with marquee signings.