MILAN (Reuters) - Torino fans are facing an agonising few days before finding out whether their club really is going to keep hold of striker Andrea Belotti.
The 23-year-old, arguably the pick of the new generation of Italian players, scored 26 goals in Serie A last season and has been the subject of speculation over a move to a big European club throughout the transfer window.
Club President Urbano Cairo has insisted he does not want to sell the player and has inserted 100 million euro ($119.4 million) buyout clause into Belotti’s contract, which runs until 2021.
But he has also admitted he would not be able to hold on to Belotti should a big European club decide to pay up.
The transfer window, which ends on Thursday in most of Europe, is a nerve-wracking time for supporters of middle-sized clubs such as Torino.
Rather than dreaming about who their club might sign, they instead fret over which top players they could lose.
Belotti gave the supporters another reminder of his potential as he led them to a 3-0 win over Sassuolo on Sunday.
After opening the scoring with a stunning scissors kick, the player known as the Rooster took a trip back to his days as a winger by slaloming through the Sassuolo defence to lay on the third for Joel Obi.
“He is still hasn’t reached his best,” Torino coach Sinisa Mihajlovic said. “But that goal showed that he is worth 100 million euros.”
AC Milan, Chelsea and AS Monaco are among clubs who would like to get their hands on the player, according to media reports.
When Belotti missed the official presentation of the new Torino strip last month, speculation mounted that he would be on his way.
But Mihajlovic, speaking before Sunday’s game, said he was convinced the threat of losing his top player had passed.
“The transfer rumours may have influenced him a little, even if only subconsciously, that’s inevitable,” said Mihajlovic.
“But I think he will stay with us, I don’t think anyone will turn up with 100 million euros before the end of the transfer window.”
Even so, Mihajlovic suggested that the club should have added further safeguards to avoid last minute surprises and spare the supporters a nerve-wracking week.
“It would’ve been wise to introduce a limit on the release clause, so it couldn’t be activated late in the transfer session,” he said.
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Writing by Brian Homewood, editing by Ed Osmond