Sabatini’s press conference

Roma sporting director Walter Sabatini held a press conference today at Trigoria:

The market is closed, Strootman will be the first real purchase of Roma?
“A great purchase. He’s an extraordinary player. We want to keep him, he’s our strong points, I hope to see him in the field with his advantages, he’s very strong. He played an exemplary role last season. A sale? It’s all made up from the English press. Kevin is not for sale. How much is he worth? He’s not worth much because he’s not for sale. You only put a price on players who are for sale.”

It’s an open market for Rabiot…
“Whatever choice we make we’ll be in agreement with PSG, they’re a prestigious club. He is an exceptional player, who has forged ahead. We cannot but follow him, we like him very much. He is a player that we would like and we will discuss him through correct behaviour, we will not wait for a solution to acquire him on a free transfer. We do not want to make strategic choices, remember that we could have signed a strong guy like Sanabria for free but we signed him in agreement with Barcelona. If we have the privilege and the desire to negotiate for Rabiot, we will do so in agreement with Paris Saint-Germain. But I believe it will be difficult, as his contract situation is unknown. We will try to work on this as something between clubs of great prestige. Perhaps at this moment they are slightly ahead of us as they can make massive investments, we want to work with all the true greats of Europe in the same manner, because we are a big club and that is how we behave.”

You sold well…can you clarify on Benatia?
“It was an exhausting matter and our president buried the matter. Bayern’s press office tried to calm the matter, I might add a few things because I feel I have to. Benatia tried to do some good things but then slipped subsequently. The conditions were good. Last May, when I tried to buy him, he had a higher offer from another Italian team, but he chose the lower offer from Roma. In January, outside matters added tension, he wanted to stay at Roma but under certain conditions. If they (the conditions) didn’t occur we’d have to talk all over again. We offered him a higher contract with respect to the initial offer we agreed to in June. To begin with, the guy was outstanding, he was a great player for the team. But the waters changed in January, we wanted to keep him until May. I was told that the price of Benatia would be €61 million because he had done great things. But later we realized his price was actually lowed, but at €28 million plus €4 million we sold the figure that was Benatia. That’s it.”

Maicon has returned: how is he?
“He must be respected because to come to Roma, he left a lot of money at Manchester City. He was a champion and continues to be. He should be left in peace because he trains, suffers, and plays with the group. Last year he played 28 games at the highest level, he even went on playing when he was poor from the physical standpoint. He must be treated with the dignity he deserves.”

You left an extra non-EU space available: why?
“I chose to make this kind of choice to keep my options open in January. It could be crucial to strengthen the team.”

Are you surprised by the controvery of Lotito? Do you agree with De Rossi?
“Of course, the talk of Lotito bothers me a bit. I can’t forget that he was once my president. When he talks, it’s better that he listens to De Rossi because he never says anything that’s trivial.”

Is this Roma stronger than Juve?
“Garcia said the right thing: they kept everyone from last year. We can’t think that they’re weakened. We have made choices that have allowed us to close the gap. It was 17 points but now it’s a lot less, we let up a little bit near the end of last season because of the World Cup, but the gap has decreased.”

Give us an idea about Iturbe…would you give up cigarettes for a month for the Scudetto?
“No! Are there any other choices (laughs)? Also because the cigarette would be celebratory. Iturbe? He’s strong.”

What can Roma do in the Champions League?
“In the next match (against CSKA Moscow), Roma will meet the next strongest team in the group, as well as the least celebrated (he’s being sarcastic). They’re a phenomenal team, a team that wins trophies and includes players we like, so I know we’re playing against the best team in the group. We play again in a few days with the desire to win and do well, relying on our resources and the quality of our players. Our players have to respect them.”

The Editor of, John has been covering Italian football as a freelance journalist for over 10 years and has appeared in various publications including,, and ESPN.