Luciano Spalletti has cleared the air with Francesco Totti and wishes Roma had “another four or five” players with the quality of the ex-Italy international.
Club captain Totti has played a peripheral role since Spalletti returned to Roma as Rudi Garcia’s successor in January, but he came off the bench to net a late equaliser in Sunday’s 3-3 draw against Atalanta.
On the back of that dramatic finish, Totti and Spalletti were reported to have clashed in the tunnel – further fuelling the impression of a damaged relationship between player and coach.
Both men subsequently denied there was any rift and Spalletti used his news conference ahead of the midweek clash with Torino to sing Totti’s praises but maintain the 39-year-old will only play if he feels his presence will benefit the whole team.
“I spoke with Totti yesterday and we cleared things up. Now we’re focusing on Torino,” Spalletti said.
“A team doesn’t depend on one player – results belong to everyone. It [Totti controversy] is not fair on my players.
“I need another four or five Tottis because we need players of his level here. I agree, he saved us in Bergamo but that’s different from saying Roma were just Totti.
“Totti is a classy player. In Bergamo he got the chance to show his quality. We have a captain and that’s Totti, but we also have a team.
“I’m the coach and I’m here to make Roma win. Rules and decisions are part of my job. I play Totti if he can help us win and if he scores, I’m happy.”
Spalletti was particularly keen to underline that no physical altercation took place between himself and the 39-year-old forward.
“It was written that Totti and I had a scuffle in the tunnel, but I didn’t meet any players in the tunnel,” he added.
“I had to defend myself from what I read. It’s important to tell the truth and respect the rules.”
Roma lie third in Serie A ahead of the midweek fixtures, five points behind second-placed Napoli and four clear of Inter in fourth.
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