Longtime Roma captain Francesco Totti served up some scathing remarks on the big-money transfers within Serie A and around the globe, accusing his peers of following the money instead of their hearts.
The 40-year-old signed on for a 25th season with AS Roma, the only club he’s ever known, while ex-teammate Miralem Pjanic left for Juventus for €32 million, and Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain also joined the Serie A champions for a league record €90 million.
"Footballers today are a bit like nomads," Totti told Gazzetta World. "They follow money and not their hearts. Maybe that is the difference between me and all the others."
"There are not many athletes who follow their hearts. If I had only thought about money I would have left Roma 10 years ago. For me it’s about passion, not about money. I have always loved these colors and always wanted to put on this shirt."
When Totti began his career at Roma in 1992, the world record transfer fee for a player at the time was €12 million (or the equivalent of €22.6 million today), which AC Milan shelled out for French forward Jean-Pierre Papin.
That’s four times less than what Juventus just paid for Higuain, and seemingly the going rate for pretty much anyone in the Premier League these days. That doesn’t sit well with Totti, who worries that the biggest losers from the whole transfer bonanza are the fans.
Higuain broke Juventus’ and Serie A’s transfer record with his €90 million move from Napoli
"People go to the stadiums to enjoy themselves and to see players in action who will always be with their team. They expect not to be betrayed.
"Just look at what happened with Higuain, leaving Napoli for Juventus. It’s a disaster."
"But it is apparently quite normal for a foreign player these days to just leave for another team where they can make more money. It’s a mentality problem."
Totti is certainly a special case. You just don’t see, or even expect, players remaining with one club for the entirety of their careers, regardless of sport. So forgive Totti for being so disillusioned.
At the same time, however, maybe he’s putting too much blame at the feet of Higuain & Co.? After all, it’s the clubs’ mentality responsible for these exorbitant transfer sums and not the players’.