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May 31, 2014

Roma put €61m price tag on Benatia

Roma are determined to hold onto Medhi Benatia despite his recent remarks.
Roma are determined to hold onto Medhi Benatia despite his recent remarks.

Roma director of football Walter Sabatini insists Medhi Benatia could only leave if the club receives an offer of 61 million euros.

- De Martinis: Benatia showing disrespect

Benatia, 27, has been linked with clubs including Barcelona, Manchester City and Chelsea after an impressive season in Serie A and has accused Roma of treating him "like a child" after they offered him what he considered an "unacceptable" pay rise.

However, the Morocco defender is under contract until 2018 and Sabatini has attempted to play down the recent controversy.

"Mehdi is a great player with a contract that expires in four years' time," he said in quotes reported on the club's official website. "We have no problem with him. He's a guy with sound principles and that's precisely what helped him have such an excellent season last term.

"Perhaps he slipped up with a few comments or words but he didn't intend to distance himself from Roma or the fans. I know him very well. He mentioned broken promises. That's not exactly how it went. It's true that when he signed for Roma he turned down other offers that were higher than ours.

"I said to him: 'You try and play like Benatia and we'll give you an improved contract.' We offered him an increase -- although there was no obligation for us to do so -- and we didn't agree on the amount, but he didn't mean to describe it as 'ridiculous.' He's speaking a language that's not his own -- you can't slaughter him for it."

Sabatini stressed that Benatia "will remain a Roma player" and accused former Udinese player's agent, Moussa Sissoko, of creating problems.

"Sissoko has been amplifying it all, acting like a minstrel seeking a court where he can play his tune," he said. "I'd like to remind this man that 30 million is the price I believe Benatia's weak foot to be worth, his left. His right foot is worth at least a million more. So you do the maths. This same man then goes and sneakily tries to offer players to my coach."

On whether he could guarantee Benatia will stay, he added: "As I've said, the player is not for sale, but if his agent wants to speculate on a price for him, then any clubs who are interested should consider him to be worth 61 million. If someone were to offer that amount, then I don't think I could guarantee that he would stay 100 percent.

"I'd like to end this by saying that he's a wonderful guy and he'll stay at Roma. Will he stay here unhappy? No, he'll stay here happy. He'll end up earning the same amount as what the other clubs are offering him at the moment."

Sabatini said that, having finished second in Serie A this season and secured their return to the Champions League, the focus this summer is squarely on adding quality to Rudi Garcia's squad.

"We'll need two for every position and an increase in quality," he said. "We're working with Rudi. We'll add to our squad and improve it, although it's very difficult to improve because we already have a great team. We'll bring in the players that we need.

"Obviously we're considering the fact that we'll have two games a week. In some cases we might even have three for one position to make sure the coach has plenty of choice."

Garcia has just signed a new contract with the club and Sabatini added: "Rudi doesn't need to take on a bigger role at Roma. We're grateful that he's so hands-on, he does a lot, working 10 hours a day, but it's all things that a coach should do. In other areas the club already does a very good job."

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