Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has never been one to hold back words, but this one’s quite the accusation. He thinks one of his chief Serie A rivals is in cahoots with a top Premier League side.
“I always had a suspicion that the real owner of Roma is the same as Liverpool, and if this were the case, the two clubs should not be allowed to play in the Champions League,” De Laurentiis said to La Gazetta dello Sport.
Both owners are American, with Liverpool owned by John Henry-led Fenway Sports Group and Roma held chiefly by Massachusetts-born James Palotta. It’s not surprising that De Laurentiis would think this, considering the roots of both men in close proximity. What is surprising is that he’d actually say it in public.
De Laurentiis said that “a little bird has told me a few years ago” that Henry and Palotta were secretly working together, and Napoli’s Italian rivals didn’t take kindly to that.
Roma responded vehemently, with the official Twitter account tweeting a quote from Palotta. “What do you think @ADeLaurentiis is smoking over there in Naples? If he finds that little bird again, he’ll find out we also own Barca and Bayern.”
Roma then released a quote from managing director Mauro Baldissoni, who said jokingly, “He [De Laurentiis] said that this was all suggested to him by a little bird. I don’t know who: I can only think that perhaps Aurelio is listening to the wrong birds! Perhaps we could suggest to him that he should speak a bit with songbirds, who deliver nice melodies rather than speaking nonsense. For our part, we send our best wishes to president De Laurentiis and to Carlo Ancelotti, their coach who remains in the hearts of all Roma fans, along with everyone else at Napoli. We wish them good luck for the new campaign, as we do all the other clubs and players.”
Is Carlo Ancelotti the right man to end Juventus’ seemingly ages-old hold on the scudetto?
Napoli hopes so, and has inked the former Real Madrid, Chelsea, and Bayern Munich boss to a three-year deal.
Ancelotti’s resume speaks for itself, and the hiring promises more Serie A drama after the Neapolitan club nearly got the job done this season under Maurizio Sarri.
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Ancelotti won scudetti as a player with Roma (1) and AC Milan (2), once more as a manager for the latter. He also led Milan to two Champions League crowns, winning the tournament with Real Madrid as well, while bringing league titles to Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, and Bayern Munich.
Napoli has finished Top 3 in six of eight seasons, finishing four points behind Juve this season. Juventus has won the last seven scudetti, and Napoli’s only title came in 1987.
The club announced the move after owner Aurelio De Laurentiis let go of Sarri, thanking the previous manager for three seasons of work which included a Serie A Coach of the Year Award and wins in 97 of 147 matches.
“I’d like to thank Maurizio Sarri for his valuable contribution to the Napoli cause. He brought joy and prestige to Naples and Napoli fans all over the world with an entertaining brand of football that drew praise from all quarters. Well done, Maurizio.”
Losing 3-1 at Real Madrid isn’t the end of the world, and a road goal just might give a team hope of advancing to the next round.
That’s not the mindset for Napoli chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis, who used a television interview to rip his manager after Wednesday’s first leg of the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16.
[ RECAP: Real Madrid 3-1 Napoli ]
De Laurentiis says that Maurizio Sarri isn’t doing his job well. Sarri is in his second season guiding Napoli, where he’s won more than 64 percent of his matches.
The chairman took to TV, and Sarri didn’t know about the criticism until it was addressed in the post-match presser. For this, we turn to reporter Tancredi Palmeri.
In Serie A play, Napoli is nine points back of Juve, the same gap as last season, despite the sanctioning of the sale of top scorer Gonzalo Higuain to its title rivals. Napoli is very much alive heading back to Naples for a second leg against a relatively beatable Real.
So what is De Laurentiis doing?
Napoli presdient Aurelio De Laurentiis has confirmed the arrival of Polish international Arkadiusz Milik via Twitter, welcoming him to the club.
The 22-year-old Polish international is thought to be a replacement for the departed striker Gonzalo Higuain, however in a somewhat significant twist, the club did not give Milik the #9 shirt despite it being open, instead handing him #99 during an unveiling prior to the club’s friendly with Nice on Monday. This seems to suggest that Napoli has not completed its search for a striker replacement, and may be confident of yet another deal in the works.
Milik arrives from Dutch giants Ajax, where he spent two seasons – one on loan from Bayer Leverkusen and one on a permanent contract. He burst onto the scene in the 2014/15 season, netting 23 times and assisting 10 others in 34 appearances across all competitions. He then bested those numbers last campaign, with 21 goals and eight assists in 31 Eredivisie appearances, including through February and March where he bagged nine goals across a six-match scoring streak. Of the 16 league matches Milik scored in, Ajax won 14 of them and drew two.
With the obligatory striker number still available at the club, Napoli has been linked most heavily with Inter frontman Mauro Icardi, whose name has been mentioned for a number of top clubs across Europe, including Arsenal.
Gonzalo Higuain’s summer move to Juventus has not come without bad blood.
When the 28-year-old striker moved from Naples to Turin thanks to Juventus activating his release clause, it left Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis with a sour taste in his mouth. “There are those who say that talk of betrayal is an exaggeration, but I think the opposite,” De Laurentiis told Corierre dello Sport. “Because, in this decision, there is the full sense of betrayal, which also includes ingratitude.”
“We never seriously thought he would leave. Nor that he would have erased in a flash the memories of his three years in Naples.”
That didn’t sit well with Higuain, who fired back that it was de Laurentiis who drove him out of his former club.
“It was my decision to leave, but it was [De Laurentiis] who pushed me into making it,” Higuain told the media at his Juventus unveiling. “I’d like to thank the fans and my teammates, but not De Laurentiis. I no longer had a relationship with him; I couldn’t stand another minute with him.”
Higuain was more celebratory about his time at Stadio San Paulo. “These have been three amazing years,” Higuain said, “and I can only say thanks for all the love I was given, but this was a decision I took for my own reasons. I can understand that they are angry with me and I’ve seen the insults, but it is something I had to do and I’m happy about it.”
Napoli visits Turin in Serie A play on October 30, while Juventus will not travel to Naples for the return fixture until early April of 2017.