Take one look at our URL and it should come as no surprise; we'll take any opportunity to discuss Francesco Totti. We dedicated nearly an entire year of coverage towards his final season with Roma, we've debated the future of his iconic shirt number and, hell, we've even talked about his son several times. When it comes to our namesake, too much is never enough, especially when we talk about the what ifs or might have beens.
So when the Corriere dello Sport ran a gallery last week speculating what Totti, at various points in his illustrious career, would have been worth in today's market, my interest was sky high; it's almost as if that piece were a targeted ad devised by the best/most nefarious minds at Google—I clicked on it instantly.
However, while I loved the concept, I was shocked that they offered no elaboration whatsoever: no methodology, no comparisons and barely any words at all. Still, a good idea is a good idea, so I thought it might be fun to dig a bit deeper into those fictional numbers.
So, without further delay, here we go. You'll have to cut me some financial slack; going from pounds to Euros and adjusting for the passage of time is more than my feeble little mind can handle.
All stats are from the season ending in the spring of the given year. Ditto for his age, while the highest transfer fee from that year was provided for context.
1996 | 19-years-old | €14 million (Year, age, CdS modern value)
Stats: 36 appearances, 4 goals
Highest Transfer Fee: Allan Shearer to Newcastle, roughly €17 million
Way back in 1996, when Slick Willy was running wild in the White House, Totti was just still taking the first steps of his legendary career. In the summer of '96, Totti had just finished his second full season in Serie A, one in which he scored a paltry four goals through 36 goals in all competitions. However, with Carlo Mazzone sacked following the '96 season, Totti's career in Roma seemed in jeopardy as he struggled under new manager Carlos Bianchi and was very nearly loaned to Sampdoria in the winter of 1997.
Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and Totti soon began his ascendancy, but CdS’ valuation of him, only three million off the highest fee paid that summer, speaks to how highly regarded Totti was at only 20-years-old.
1998 | 21-years-old | €23 million
Stats: 36 appearances, 14 goals
Highest Transfer Fee: Denilson to Real Betis, roughly €32.5 million
By the summer of 1998, Totti had just put the wraps on his first truly great season, as his 13 league goals were second on the club to Abel Balbo and tenth overall in the league. Thanks to Totti's emergence, Roma jumped up eight spots in the table from the prior season, finishing fourth and qualifying for the UEFA Cup. Totti would earn his first handful of Italy caps that year as well; the Totti we know and love first took root in 1998 and at €23 million would have been a far better buy than Denilson, who scored only twice that season for Betis.
2002 | 25-years-old | €148 million
Stats: 36 appearances, 12 goals
Highest Transfer Fee: Rio Ferdinand to Manchester United, roughly €35 million
Now we're talking! By this point in time, Totti was not only Italy's number ten, he'd won a Scudetto, a Supercoppa Italiana, Serie A footballer of the year, two-straight Serie A Italian footballer of the year as well as making the All-Euro 2000 team. In a word, he was among the elite...the ultra elite.
This was, coincidentally, when the vultures really began to circle around Totti, testing Roma's mettle in the process.
2004 | 27-years-old | €150 million
Stats: 32 appearances, 20 goals
Highest Transfer Fee: Didier Drogba to Chelsea, roughly €28 million
Totti, who was just entering his prime at 27-years-old, was worth more than five times what the newly minted Chelsea forked over to OM for Drogba. Here is where I wish they included their methodology in those calculations because that's quite a gap between he and Drogba, but Totti was a far more complete player than Drogba ever was, so I'm not going to argue.
Now, had Totti not been so connected to the only club he'd ever known, he could have parlayed his success to a far brighter future with the mid-aughts Galacticos of Real Madrid. Joining Zidane and Roberto Carlos and Luis Figo and David Beckham and Ronaldo and Raul and even Michael Owen must have been tough to turn down, but the fact that he did speaks volumes about his love and appreciation for all things Roma.
2007 | 30-years-old | €161 million
Stats: 50 appearances, 32 goals
Highest Transfer Fee: Fernando Torres, roughly €23 million
According to CdS, Totti, who was Europe's leading scorer following the 2006-2007 season, not to mention handing out the most assists in Serie A, was at his absolute financial apex, worth a whopping €161 million in today's market. Unfortunately for Roma, Totti's magnificent campaign did little to help the club on the table as they finished a distant second to Inter Milan's 97 point tirade of a season, though they did manage to defeat them for that year's Coppa Italia honors.
2008 | 31-years-old | €100 million
Stats: 35 appearances, 18 goals
Highest Transfer Fee: Robinho to Real Madrid, roughly €37 million
Even at 31-years-old, Totti showed no signs of slowing down. With 18 goals in all comps, Totti was in the midst of a stretch in which he'd score double digit goals in 17 of 21 seasons, only this time it would yield a trophy, Totti's second consecutive Coppa Italia title. Not only that, Totti captured the Pallone d’Argento following the 2007-2008 season, Italy's sort of sportsman-of-the-year award for footballers. Not bad.
2010 | 33-years-old | €60 million
Stats: 31 appearances, 25 goals
Highest Transfer Fee: David Villa to Barcelona, roughly €36 million
Were Totti a mere mortal, this was probably the time you'd expect him to be slowing down, but Totti was on fire that season, registering 14 goals and six assists in league play, pushing Roma as close to a Scudetto as we've seen since 2001—a mere two points behind eventual league winners Inter. While Totti has had better statistical seasons on his CV, putting up those numbers in little more than 1,800 league minutes was ree-dick-you-luss.
2012 | 35-years-old | €55 million
Stats: 31 appearances, 8 goals (Thanks, Luis)
Highest Transfer Fee: Thiago Silva to PSG, roughly €43 million
Thanks to Luis Enrique's slavish devotion to tiki taka, Totti failed to crack double digits in goals for the first time in over a decade, though with eight goals and seven assists in league play, Totti was as integral to Roma as ever, and would, according to the CdS, fetch over €50 million in today's marketplace. Unreal. Totti is unreal.
Unfortunately, Totti would go on to have only one more season as an unquestioned starter, but it was a hell of a season. Once Enrique kicked rocks, Totti showed once again what an absolute master he was, registering the still rare double-double campaign, scoring 12 goals and setting up 12 more during the 2012-2013 season.
Nevertheless, even as a super sub, Totti would be worth a mint in 2019.
2014 | 37-years-old | €30 million
Stats: 29 appearances, 8 goals, 10 assists
Highest Transfer Fee: Luis Suarez to Barcelona, €82 million
Slowly creeping towards his 40th birthday, Totti remained perhaps Roma's most lethal player, registering 16 goals and 16 assists in league play between the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 seasons, the last ones in which he'd garner over 1,000 league minutes. And even at that advanced age he'd go for €30 million.
We can quibble with the CdS’ apparently proprietary methodology, but if you're an oil baron and your football club needs a short term shot in the arm, you're telling me you wouldn't pay €30 million for a player like Totti, one who can change the course of your season in mere minutes?
While this was ultimately an academic exercise and a fun thought experiment, it serves as further evidence of how truly special Francesco Totti was. Roma could have obliterated the world transfer record several times during Totti's peak, yet due to his allegiance and love for the club and city of his birth, those figures remained fantasy.
And while that money could have done a lot of good for the always budget conscious club, there is no fantasy (or reality for that matter) in which Roma would have been better off without Francesco Totti.
Totti was always that one thing that made Roma special, and that one thing could never be measured by something as crass and meaningless as money.