Roman Holiday? Lippi Latest Suggests Totti Could Be South Africa Bound

Marco RinaldiContributor IMay 4, 2010

PARMA, ITALY - MAY 01:  Francesco Totti of AS Roma celebrates after the second goal during the Serie A match between  Parma FC and AS Roma at Stadio Ennio Tardini on May 1, 2010 in Parma, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Italy fans have already vented their frustrations at Marcello Lippi's choices for the national team, and his latest utterances are sure to cause more controversy, particularly amongst those who fear his over-reliance on the stars of 2006 will cost the Azzurri dearly in South Africa.

He has always been non-committal when discussing the possible return of Roma idol Francesco Totti, but today he dropped the clearest hints that the leading active Italian goalscorer in Serie A would be in at least the 30 man squad when he names it on 11 May.

"I don't have any visits to Trigoria planned," said Lippi, referring to Roma's training base.  "But there is always the telephone or mail.  You will need to wait until May 11."

Totti has always been a controversial figure; adored to the point of a diety in Rome, whilst his ability has always been questioned outwith the peninsula.  However, those that have followed Italian football for any time have no doubt in his ability; the question for Italian fans is whether he is the right man to be called up for the Azzurri this summer.

That Italy need a creative spark up front is undeniable; their performances in qualifying (perhaps with the exception of the first half at home against Bulgaria) were largely uninspiring.  Those strikers guaranteed a spot on the plane - Gilardino, Iaquinta, Di Natale and probably Pazzini - are all good players, but none of them fit the mould of a classic fantasista, a position that the Azzurri have regularly filled with a top player.

The more likely candidates for the role - Cassano and Miccoli chief amongst them - are sure to be at home thanks to previous disagreements with the Italian coach, which leaves the role open.  Giuseppe Rossi is an undoubted young talent, but he is neither a fantasista, nor does he appear to have the strength of personality - yet - to be Italy's creative attacking force.

The question for Italian fans is, then, whether it is better to take no one in that role (taking either an extra midfielder - Montolivo, for example - or another 'big' striker such as Borriello) or whether to take back the man who famously turned his back on the national team after the World Cup triumph four years ago.

It is not an easy question to answer.  Montolivo and Borriello have had fine seasons, but there are questions over whether either player can really make the difference at international level.  Totti, on the other hand, has been there, done that.  He has the ability - and arrogance - to make the difference at that level; to make that defence-splitting pass.

Whether he makes the plane to South Africa remains to be seen, but in the absence of some of Lippi's more obvious snubs, would it be so bad to see this particular veteran form part of the 23 man squad?