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Francesco Totti is, unsurprisingly, not in favour of Gonzalo Higuain’s transfer from Napoli to Juventus.
The 28-year-old’s €90m (£75m) transfer was confirmed on Tuesday afternoon after the Serie A champions met the buyout clause in Higuain’s contract. The striker is now the third most expensive player in history, and the most expensive domestic transfer of all-time.
The move is all the more controversial because Higuain has left a club where he was loved by the passionate fanbase, to join Serie A’s most successful team, and therefore, most disliked by opposition fans.
Higuain was arguably Napoli’s best player since Diego Maradona in the 1980s, and last season broke Serie A’s record for goals in a single campaign, netting 36 in 35 games.
However, whereas Maradona spent seven seasons at Napoli, and didn’t play for another Italian club, Higuain joining a direct rival, for such an exorbitant fee, reflects how much football has changed in the past two decades.
Roma captain Totti, who made his debut in 1994 for his hometown team, is one of the few high-profile one club players remaining, and is in a prime position to comment on the financial shift within football.
Unsurprisingly, the 39-year-old didn’t give his seal of approval for the Higuain transfer, or modern football in general.
“The sport has changed a lot. Now the focus is more on money,” Totti told Gazzetta dello Sport in a wide-ranging interview.
“Players change teams more often, to make maybe more money. It’s more business than passion. People come to the stadium to have fun and to see a player that’s always with the same team. Maybe they hope for a player that won’t betray them.
“Look at what’s happened now with Gonzalo Higuain leaving Napoli for Juventus. It’s a disaster. But it’s completely normal now that when a foreigner comes to Italy he has the possibility of going to another team to make more money.”
Totti turned down the chance to leave Roma on numerous occasions and recently signed a new one-year extension. The forward says he has been motivated by passion, and not money, throughout his career.
“Maybe this is the difference between me and everyone else,” Totti continued.
“There aren’t many athletes who follow their hearts. They choose go somewhere to win more and earn more money. They’re like gypsies.
“If I thought only about the money and the finances, I would have changed teams 10 years ago. I’d earn more in respect to what I make now with Roma. For me it’s another choice, one of passion, not money.”