Roma make Totti pledge
By Mark Buckingham & Nadia Carminati. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
Roma have reiterated their stance to keep Francesco Totti amid fervent speculation he will replace French star Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid.
Spanish giants Real have been long-term admirers of Totti and are believed to be keen to recruit the Italian international over the summer.
Previous reports had suggested Real wanted to team Totti up with Zidane but rumours abound in Italy that Internazionale are interested in bringing the playmaker back to Serie A.
Real would surely be reluctant to offload Zidane but rumours have surfaced that the Frenchman would feel threatened by Totti's arrival at El Santiago Bernabeu.
Inter and Real are still involved in a row regarding the sale of Brazilian ace Ronaldo nearly two years ago and the Italians could seek to finally lay the matter to rest by firming up their interest in Zidane, as they chase recompense from the Spaniards.
The former Juventus schemer is entering the twilight of his career and may be tempted by one last major move, particularly the challenge of ending Inter's lengthy wait for the scudetto.
But any chance of a deal would surely hinge on Real's ability to tempt Roma into parting company with the talismanic Totti.
Totti is the heir apparent to Zidane's crown as the world's best playmaker and Roma would be reluctant to listen to any offers for their prized asset.
Such is the club's determination to retain Totti's services, they have again vowed that the player will spend many more years in the Italian capital.
"He's Roma's heritage and he will stay with us for a long time," the club's chief officer Rossella Sensi told Italian weekly magazine Panorama.
Meanwhile, Real's bid to sign Roma defender Walter Samuel inched a step closer after the Italians confirmed they are mulling over offers for the Argentinian.
Samuel, who has also been a target for Chelsea, is believed to favour a switch to Real but will have to wait to discover if his current club accept any of the offers on the table.
Roma's sports director Franco Baldini commented: "We are currently considering more than one offer.
"There are contrasting interests, but we will have the last word on the move."