Totti says he’ll leave but Sa­ba­tini says he re­mains with Roma

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

AN OUT­BURST from tal­is­manic striker Francesco Totti, who said he would think about leav­ing the club af­ter 19 sea­sons, has pro­vided the lat­est twist to the soap opera at am­bi­tious AS Roma.

Roma, who visit Napoli in Serie A to­mor­row, quickly played down Totti’s com­ments which fol­lowed crit­i­cism of his missed penalty in last Mon­day’s 1- 1 draw at home to Ju­ven­tus.

Sport­ing man­ager Wal­ter Sa­ba­tini praised Totti for show­ing his emo­tion and said the 35-year-old’s com­ments were made in the heat of the mo­ment.

“I don’t like calm wa­ters, he has been hurt by the crit­i­cism,” he told Sky Sports Italia. “He has been spon­ta­neous and has done the right thing by say­ing it.

“Totti’s not go­ing any­where, he is Roma,” Sa­ba­tini added. “He will con­tinue to rep­re­sent Roma for many years.”

Totti, who has of­ten been rel­e­gated to the sub­sti­tutes bench by coach Luis En­rique, said: “If I’m the prob­lem, then I’ll think about leav­ing.

“It’s not be­cause of the club or the coach or my team­mates, I dis­like things a few fans have said against me.

“If things carry on in this way, I will con­tinue to think about it.”

Roma, taken over in April by a con­sor­tium led by United States busi­ness­man Thomas Di Benedetto, have strug­gled to live up to ex­pec­ta­tions, which were height­ened by a sum­mer spend­ing spree and Luis En­rique’s com­ment that he wanted them to play like Barcelona.

In­stead, they have man­aged five wins in 14 Serie A out­ings, drop­ping to 10th with 18 points and 12 be­hind lead­ers Ju­ven­tus.

Luis En­rique, who took over in the close sea­son, quickly courted con­tro­versy by leav­ing Totti on the bench and the storm only sub­sided af­ter the striker is­sued a state­ment ask­ing for back­ing for the coach.

There was fur­ther trou­ble when lead­ing scorer Pablo Os­valdo lashed out at teenager Erik Lamela af­ter a match at Udi­nese and was sus­pended for one game by the club.

Un­der pres­sure Luis En­rique, whose fu­ture has al­ready been ques­tioned, then lost his tem­per and swore at jour­nal­ists in a me­dia con­fer­ence be­fore the Ju­ven­tus game.

Un­beaten Ju­ven­tus, level at the top on 30 points with sur­prise pack­age Udi­nese, have a chance to go clear when they host No­vara while their ri­vals have a much more dif­fi­cult match at Lazio, both matches be­ing played to­mor­row.

Lazio, win­ners of their last two games, are level on 28 points in third place with AC Mi­lan, who should win at home to a Siena team who have taken one point from their last 15 and are only two points above the rel­e­ga­tion zone.

In­ter Mi­lan, who climbed from 15th to sixth af­ter two wins in the last week, host a Ce­sena side to­mor­row who were win­less in their first 10 out­ings but have won three of their last four. – Reuters

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