Ranieri: Totti out of this world

AS Roma coach Claudio Ranieri lavished praise on Francesco Totti on Monday, describing the veteran 34-year-old captain's level of play as "stratospheric".

Ranieri, speaking on the eve of Roma's UEFA Champions League clash with Swiss side FC Basel, told a press conference: "Totti is stratospheric at the moment. I've said this from the start of the season.

"He always trains to the limit. He's missing a goal...but I'm very happy with him."

Only last month Ranieri was forced to reject rumours of a rift between him and his skipper. He said: "I read that Totti was against me. You can't write anything more absurd.

"I have a loyal relationship with all the players, particularly with my captain, who has spent his life here and who has suffered a thousand wrongs for his team. As a Roman and a romanista (Roma fan), I don't understand it."

Looking ahead to Tuesday's clash with Basel, the former Chelsea boss said: "They are a side that defend well, and are good on the counter-attack - they came close to getting a result against Bayern Munich. We know their strong and weak points, but I'd prefer to go into those with my players, not here."

Roma earned a crucial 2-1 win over Genoa on Saturday to climb out of the relegation zone.