Mike Stevens | Jan 18, 2010

DUCATI GENERAL MANAGER Claudio Domenicali says his team is keen to retain the services of former World Champion Casey Stoner beyond this season, as speculation mounts over the future of Valentino Rossi.

Rossi is reportedly contemplating a switch from Yamaha after growing frustrated with the team’s insistence on awarding Jorge Lorenzo equal number one rider status, with Ducati mooted as a potential destination.

But Domenicali dismissed suggestions Ducati would look to sign Rossi for the 2011 season, claiming Stoner is the most talented rider on the current grid.

“I think that Casey is talent-wise the strongest rider in the world. Nicky (Hayden) gave us a wonderful lesson on life and management,” he said.

“Our motto is 'never give up' and Nicky taught us once again that we must never give up, so to think about something different with such a team is not appropriate.

“However it is true that our agreements are going to expire mid-season. So between my will and what is going to happen, there may be some differences.”

Domenicali also moved to reject claims Ducati could field a Rossi-Stoner line-up in 2011, despite admitting it would be an extremely tantalising prospect.

“For me if it's a choice between one or the other, personally I have no doubt that we have the rider with the highest talent, so for me the priority is to hold on to Casey. I have no doubts about this, it's my personal priority,” he said.

“Could Casey and Valentino go well together? You would have to ask them. It's like asking a (football) manager would they like to have Maradona and Platini in the same team?

“Of course, why not, we would like to, but then if the wedding is successful or not, we don't know. But the team (currently) has two strong riders and we would like this to continue, that's quite clear.”

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