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Walter Sabatini: "Roma will challenge for the title next season"

Walter Sabatini:

05/31/2014

BENATIA
"Mehdi is a great player with a contract that expires in four years' time. We have no problem with him. He's a guy with sound principles and that's precisely what helped him have such an excellent season last term. Perhaps he slipped up with a few comments or words but he didn't intend to distance himself from Roma or the fans. I know him very well. He mentioned broken promises. That's not exactly how it went. It's true that when he signed for Roma he turned down other offers that were higher than ours. I said to him, 'You try and play like Benatia and we'll give you an improved contract.' We offered him an increase – although there was no obligation for us to do so – and we didn't agree on the amount, but he didn't mean to describe it as 'ridiculous'. He's speaking a language that's not his own, you can't slaughter him for it. He's been totally coherent with what he promised me when I met him in Milan last year. We owe him gratitude and respect. He might have slipped up on other things but I'm sure he didn't want to put anyone down. He expressed his admiration for other big clubs. I admire other clubs too, but none more than Roma. Roma has become a necessity for me.

"In any case, Benatia is a Roma player and he'll remain a Roma player. Sissoko [his agent] has been amplifying it all, acting like a minstrel seeking a court where he can play his tune. I'd like to remind this man that 30 million is the price I believe Benatia's weak foot to be worth, his left. His right foot is worth at least a million more. You do the math. This same man then goes and sneakily tries to offer players to my coach.

"Can I guarantee Benatia won't leave? I can guarantee for his moral and technical worth. I wasn't exactly calm after I'd closed the deal with [Udinese owner] Pozzo because I knew it was a big deal, and understandably lots of people were skeptical. As I've said, the player is not for sale, but if his agent wants to speculate on a price for him then any interested clubs should consider his value to be 61 million. If someone were to offer that amount, then I don't think I could guarantee 100% that he would stay.

"I'd like to end this by saying that he's a wonderful guy and he'll stay at Roma. Will he stay here unhappy? No, he'll stay here happy. He'll end up earning the same amount as what the other clubs are offering him at the moment."

ROSTER FOR THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
"We'll need two for every position and more quality. We're working with Rudi, we'll add to our roster and improve it, although it's very difficult to improve because we already have a great team. We'll bring in the players that we need. Obviously we're considering the fact that we'll have two games a week. In some cases we might even have three for one position to make sure the coach has plenty of choice."

GARCIA'S NEW DEAL
"Rudi doesn't need to take on a bigger role at Roma. We're grateful that he's so hands-on. He does a lot, working 10 hours a day, but it's all things that a coach should do. In other areas the club already does a very good job."

TARGETS
"Last year I said we had to be challenging to get into the Champions League. Now I'll say something that I might get massacred for: Roma can challenge for the title next season. That's what our target must be. Roma deserves to be in the mix for it. It's not just what I want, it's the intrinsic worth of this team. The strong cohesion there is between the coach and the players. Leaving aside the last three games, we'll look to build on our 85 points. When that's your starting point, all you can do is improve."

CASTAN
"He's shown how much Roma means to him and he's an important player. He came here to sign his contract extension at 7:30 in the morning before leaving."

OSVALDO
"Osvaldo has shown he's a well-behaved player at Juventus, as he was at Roma. His performances have been different at Juventus though – he did much better when he was at Roma."

ITURBE
"Roma are interested in Iturbe, of course we are. I received a visit from an agent representing him while I was in hospital and I spoke to him. It's a complex deal that we're looking into. We're always on the lookout for good players, sometimes even for bad ones! And I accept the responsiblity."

HUNT FOR A FORWARD
"We're looking at bringing in a forward. We still have the greatest player in Roma's history here, Francesco Totti. He's playing well and saying important things for the club. I liked what he said about Benatia too. And I thank him. A few years ago I put forward an idea. I said, 'I'd love it if Totti were to take a group of promising youngsters under his wing.' And that's what he's doing now. I'm very proud of him.

"Destro? He'll stay here. He's a superb player, a determined, ambitious kid. He'll have to improve certain sides of his character and his performances, but he scored 13 goals in 18 games - an impressive figure."

AFRICA
"Will the Africa Cup of Nations influence our transfer choices? It will a bit, yes. Some of our players will be taking part. It's an important tournament for them and we couldn't ask them not to go."

RENEWALS AND LOANS
"Toloi and Bastos? Roma love these two players. Toloi is a fantastic guy and an excellent player. We're trying to bring his price down. We want to keep him, he deserves to play for Roma.

"We'll look at Bastos too. We'd like to renegotiate his contract and fee. If it doesn't happen we'll be very sorry. He's an experienced player who's played a lot in the Champions League. If he doesn't stay, we'll sign someone else with similar qualities.

"Viviani? He's done very well at Latina. Latina have an option on co-ownership which has gone now. We have a counter-option but we want to set out a great career path for him because he deserves it.

"Bertolacci? He wants to play regular football. I rate him a lot but I can't guarantee he'll get 30 games a year at Roma.

"Taddei? That's a real torment for me. He's a great guy and a consummate professional. I'm the bearer of bad news. We think his time at Roma has come to an end. When I explained to him that there was very little chance he'd be staying at Roma, he accepted the decision with great dignity and said, 'I just want to tell you what a good job I think you've done over the years.' It was like a blow to the kidneys. I'd like to take this opportunity to say that it's been an honor to work with him during this time."


 

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