Cash-go-giovanni: Toulon must stump up if they want Martin
22:01 GMT, 28 December 2012
French big-spenders Toulon must stump up a transfer fee if Leicester to part with Italian tight-head Martin Castrogiovanni.
Speculation in France has pointed to Castrogiovanni joining the likes of Jonny Wilkinson next season, but the Argentinian-born forward has a year still to run on a three-year deal at Leicester.
The 31-year-old is on the bench Saturday in Leicester’s Aviva Premiership match at home to Gloucester having returned from a trip back to Argentina for family reasons before Christmas.
Heading for the exit Italy and Leicester prop Martin Castrogiovanni (right) has been linked with a move away from Welford Road
But Leicester’s director of rugby Richard Cockerill said the player had not asked for a move though he was aware of the interest from a French club who also said to be chasing Bath scrum-half Michael Claassens.
Cockerill added: ‘He’s under contract for another season.
'We have accepted transfer fee for our players in the past but at this time the player hasn’t come and seen me and said he wants to leave and we have had no official approach from Toulon.
‘So at this point Castro is our player and is here for another season. If Toulon have enough money to buy him out of his contract with us that might be an option, but at this point he is our player and we are more than happy to have him.’
Or not However, Leicester Director of Rugby Richard Cockerill (pictured) has said that the player has not asked for a move as yet
Castrogiovanni has made himself a popular member of the Leicester squad since he joined in 2006 and has always given full credit to the club for helping him become one of the most powerful props in the world.
Leicester might be interested in off-loading him in an effort to keep within the Premiership salary cap budget of 4.5 million a season.
When Castrogiovanni signed his latest deal two years ago, it was reported he was on a deal of well over 200,000 per season.
Since then, however, Leicester have developed Dan Cole into a tight-head of international repute and have high hopes that Fraser Balmain, a recruit from Newcastle, will also become another top-class prop.
The rise of Cole: The emergence of Dan Cole (pictured) as a world-class prop has limited the popular Italian's playing time in recent seasons
Cockerill has admitted that he faces a fight to keep all his top players, including England lock Geoff Parling who has yet to agree a new deal.
Gloucester, who are losing Scotland lock Jim Hamilton to France, are reported to be heading the queue.
Parling starts today against Gloucester having had to do substitute duty in last week’s win over London Irish. But there is no place yet in the Leicester squad for Tom Croft, the England flanker, who is poised to make his comeback from a serious neck injury sustained last April.
Cockerill said: ‘When you have been out for that amount of time you have to be careful coming back into big fixtures. Tom will have to wait another week or so maybe which won't hurt him.’