Toulon supremo Mourad Boudjellal has declared that Martin Castrogiovanni will not play for the Top 14 side next season but the Tigers are adamant that the deal is still on.
Reports earlier this year claimed that Castrogiovanni had agreed to a switch to Toulon, a move that was dependant on his current club Leicester Tigers coming to an agreement with the Top 14 big spenders over a transfer fee as he still has a year left on his current deal. But Boudjellal has now claimed that the Tigers are asking for too much money for the tight-head's services and has pulled the plug on the move.
"Martin Castrogiovanni is not within our means, it is clear," Boudjellal told local newspaper La Provence. "Leicester are asking for too much money. They have seen RCT as if it were a piggy bank, certainly to the detriment of the will their player. Consequently, when we do not have sufficient finances to hire a player, we do not. RCT cannot afford Castrogiovanni. The case is closed: Castrogiovanni will not play in Toulon."
But while Toulon seem adamant that Castrogiovanni will not play for them next year, Leicester claim that the deal is still in the pipeline. "We met with Mourad Boudjellal and we agreed a fee at that meeting," Tigers CEO Simon Cohen told the Leicester Mercury. "Toulon have been unable to complete the agreement but our position remains exactly the same.
"We have identified a replacement and, if Toulon are able to complete the agreement and the replacement player becomes available, we would still be able to release Castro. But, at the point in time at which the replacement we have identified signs elsewhere, we will then not be in a position to release Castro. If he does end up staying at Tigers, we will be happy because he is a great player and an icon of the club."
While Castrogiovanni's future is uncertain, Jonny Wilkinson is closing in a new one-year contract with the French giants. Reports at the weekend claimed that the fly-half is keen to extend his deal and while he has not yet put pen to paper, Boudjellal is confident that it is merely a formality and revealed that Wilkinson has agreed to a pay cut.
"It will be official when it has been signed," Boudjellal told L'Equipe. "But I do not worry too much. Once we agreed, Jonny does not reverse his decision. Now we need to write the contract. I mean to sign it. Jonny has made concessions on his side. He has seen his salary reduced."
Wilkinson revealed that he saught the advice of his team-mates before agreeing to re-sign and he has also claimed that Boudjellal's patience was key. "In November, I was hesitating as to whether I should extend my contract or not," Wilkinson said. "Mourad said that was not upsetting for him if I hadn't yet made my mind up and that helped me a lot.
"I took the time to reflect on it and to ask questions of others in helping me reach the right decision. I am not going to hide the fact that sometimes I woke up in the morning thinking I should stop and then the next day I changed my mind. It is vital never to panic and also not to decide anything too quickly."