How do you phase out a club icon?

Ben Lyttleton spoke to Off The Ball about the ongoing saga between AS Roma boss Luciano Spalletti and Francesco Totti

BY Cian Roche 07:38 Tuesday 19 April 2016, 7:38 19 Apr 2016

Francesco Totti has become synonymous with Serie A side AS Roma having made almost 600 appearances for the club and scoring 245 times.

With similar qualities to that of Ryan Giggs at Manchester United, the club captain is now 39 years old and is approaching retirement.

Speculation has been growing in recent times of a rift between manager Luciano Spalletti and Totti, with reports of both physical confrontations and public disagreements between the pair.

There was another such incident after Roma's last gasp draw against Atlanta, in which the veteran Italian scored to earn his side a point.

"Totti confronted Spalletti about his lack of game time and this is part of an ongoing discussion about how you phase out the club icon" European football correspondent Ben Lyttleton told Off The Ball.

Mohammed Salah celebrates with Francesco Totti, during a Serie A game between Roma and Bologna, in Rome's Olympic stadium, Monday, April 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

His goal over the weekend and against Bologna also helped bail out Roma who appear to be lagging slightly in the race for third spot behind Napoli and champions-elect, Juventus.

"Spalletti was said to have shouted at Totti and all sorts of stories came out about physical confrontations. One Roma based website claimed he told his players that they had been 'looking like fools' for the last ten years.

"But today it was a PR drive in a major way; Totti and Spalletti pictured together smiling at training. Spalletti went on to give an interview explaining how he was angry at Totti for not scoring another goal.

"He said this because he says he is 'treating him like the important player he is'. He is an icon of the club and Spalletti insists it'll be up to him when he wants to retire.

"Of course this is stuff Totti wants to hear, but who knows if it will happen. If Spalletti stays in charge I don't think he'll get that much more game time next season. So how do you phase out this club icon? That will be the debate that rages until now and the end of the season."

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