Roma midfielder Daniele de Rossi has shocked the club by revealing that he has become disillusioned with life at the Stadio Olimpico, though the Italy international stressed his belief that "the wound will heal itself".
De Rossi, 27, has been at Roma for his entire ten-year career and has enjoyed hero status among Giallorossi fans, who have supported him through some notable on-field indiscretions.
At the 2006 World Cup, De Rossi had the book thrown at him by FIFA after a violent elbow on USA striker Brian McBride. He was banned for four matches and lambasted in the Italian press for jeopardising Italy's chances of glory in Germany.
But the Roma supporters stood united behind him and their faith was rewarded in the World Cup final, when he returned to successfully convert the third spot-kick in the Azzurri's penalty shootout success against France.
De Rossi, a tenacious defensive midfielder, has continued to be a fan favourite in the interevening years thanks to his all-action approach to the game, but he feels that the Stadio Olimpico faithful's support is waning - as demonstrated by the way they reacted in the aftermath of his red card in Roma's Champions League last-16 defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk.
"They used to treat me as one of their own, they would tell me to throw in another elbow, but now the wind has changed," De Rossi said. "Something here at Roma is changing. For a year and a half, the things I've heard that have given me the most pride have come from outside Rome. I have had moments at a low ebb, in which I wasn't at my best. Do I feel wounded?
"Yes, but I don't want to play the victim, I don't want people to come and tell me how great I am. The wound will heal itself. Then, everyone makes his own assessments."
The English press have interpreted De Rossi's comments as a sign that he is seeking away from his boyhood club, with Manchester United linked to a swoop for the experienced Italian as a replacement for Owen Hargreaves.
De Rossi's contract expires next summer and while his father Alberto, a youth team coach at Roma, says his son "would never want to face a future away from Roma, he admitted that "if he expressed himself [in that way], then there is a cause behind it."
Roma have endured a turbulent season, with Claudio Ranieri sacked after failing to inspire a title charge and the club, now led by Vicenzo Montella, is subject of a takeover bid from American Thomas DiBenedetto, a minorty partner in Fenway Sports Group - the consortium that owns Liverpool.