Totti wanted by J-League, US clubs

TOKYO • Italian football star Francesco Totti, who recently made a tearful farewell to Roma after 25 years at his boyhood club, is wanted by Japan's Tokyo Verdy.

The J-League second-division side have made an audacious offer to the 40-year-old World Cup winner, although they face competition from other clubs, including North American Soccer League's Miami FC. Verdy spokesman Yuya Kurabayashi said: "There has been interest from Totti's side. The club is looking at ways to raise the money needed to sign the player along with our sponsors."

Verdy president Hideaki Hanyu has been quoted by Italian media as saying Totti had asked for a deal worth €3 million (S$4.7 million), but Verdy declined to confirm details of their offer.

"We are not as rich as (Vissel) Kobe or (Urawa) Reds so we can't just go after any player on the market," admitted Kurabayashi, adding that Miami - coached by Totti's close friend and compatriot Alessandro Nesta - could also out-muscle Verdy financially.

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"It will be difficult but we are exploring options to get the deal done."

Totti made 786 appearances and scored 307 goals for Roma in a glittering 25-year career, and won the World Cup with Italy in 2006.

Despite interest in his services, retirement still remains an option for the striker, who made his debut for Roma as a 16-year-old in a 2-0 win over Brescia in 1993.

Totti won the Italian Serie A title in 2001 and twice won the Coppa Italia. He has also been linked to a role as a club executive at Roma.

Japanese first-division side Vissel bucked a trend of high-profile players moving to China when they signed German World Cup winner Lukas Podolski earlier this year.

Their swoop for the former Arsenal striker also represented something of a coup for the J-League, which once attracted luminaries such as Zico and Gary Lineker when it began in 1993. But it has struggled to acquire big-name players in recent years.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2017, with the headline 'Totti wanted by J-League, US clubs'. Print Edition | Subscribe