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Cassano set for Samp exit after president row?

Antonio Cassano's future at Sampdoria looks bleak after the player had a blazing row with president Riccardo Garrone.

Cassano has been frozen out of the squad and is ''distraught'' over the situation, according to his agent Giuseppe Bozzo, who claimed that the row had started because Cassano refused to attend an awards ceremony.

The Italian striker was asked to apologise by the president, but refused, and now looks set to quit the club after the pair exchanged heated words.

"He is very down, depressed and horrified. At this moment, Antonio is distraught and has been torn apart," Bozzo told the Secolo XIX newspaper. ''Antonio has given so much to Sampdoria and is very tied to the team, but now he feels betrayed.

"I have done everything in my power to put things right. I came to Genoa and personally listened to the phone conversation between Antonio and President Garrone. When I left, everything seemed to be fine.

"Quite frankly, the logic of this whole affair eludes me. The only explanation I can think of is that Sampdoria want to get rid of Antonio. If this is a way to get rid of him, just say so."

President Garrone demanded a written formal apology from Cassano, but when it was not forthcoming the club released the following statement: "Referring to the episode on Tuesday 26th (November) at the Gloriano Mugnaini training centre during which the footballer Antonio Cassano behaved in a seriously offensive and disrespectful way in his meeting with the president Riccardo Garrone, Sampdoria has asked the relevant organisations to begin disciplinary proceedings.''

However, Bozzo has moved to clear up his client's side of the story.

"He wanted to stay home with his wife. Money was not an issue," he insisted. "I was at Antonio's house on Wednesday evening and I was present when he called the President. Everything was clarified, they ended the conversation on good terms. Evidently something happened between that night and the next morning, as the cards on the table changed."

Bozzo also hit out at the club's handling of the situation, maintaining that they would not back down over their desire to see Cassano formally apologise.

"It's a document that is completely illogical,'' he added. ''They dug their heels in over this document, which would've gone to the Sampdoria Board of Directors, confirming President Garrone had received the formal and official apology from the player. I did not oppose the document per se, but I did oppose to the approach. They told Cassano 'you have to sign or we'll leak the story.'"

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