Tuesday February 18 2014
‘Maradona an ambassador, but…’

Aurelio De Laurentiis has played down Diego Maradona’s chances of coaching Napoli, and played up transfer work the club plan for the summer.

The Vesuviani were able to welcome back to the San Paolo their Argentine legend during last week, when Maradona visited Italy and caught the second half of the team’s Coppa Italia win over Roma.

With a recent past in coaching, the suggestion has been floated of late that, should the 53-year-old resolve tax issues in the peninsula, he could one day be Napoli’s next Coach.

However, when this was put to the club’s President, he was chose a cautious response.

“Maradona is an ambassador, he is an icon recognised around the world and if he would like to represent us outside of Naples then I would be happy to oblige,” De Laurentiis has told Fox Sports this week.

“We embraced on a magical night, he arrived after the first goal, brought us luck because we scored two more against Roma in a game that was not easy.

“But as a Coach? A few things in the papers are organised in a certain way.

“Maradona is unique, a great champion but not necessarily a great Coach. I’m with Benitez, I am monogamous, and I hope that this marriage will last as long as possible.”

De Laurentiis considered next Napoli’s direction long term and what the summer may hold in store in the market.

“If my Coach asks for Mascherano and he falls within the Financial Fair Play, of which there are rules and we have to respect them, then I will sign him.

“Lamela? No, he is not in our plans. We have reinforcements in that role and we do not need someone who will not play.

“My dream? I would love to always buy a player at 20 and work with them and see them grow. It takes experience, some cases are special, but how many champions at 21-22 are already mature?

“During the summer we will build a real team for the Scudetto, we will see what we can do and what we must do.

“Lavezzi to return perhaps? In the meantime we will welcome him in a friendly against Napoli with Paris Saint-Germain.

“We will have our Cavani and Lavezzi against us, imagine what a game that will be. Then, everything will depend on Rafa Benitez, if he sees fit to sign Lavezzi then fine, otherwise if there is no space then he won’t be able to return.

“Has there been contact? No, no contact.”

De Laurentiis was asked if he misses Edinson Cavani.

“I am always proud of what I do, whilst I respect Cavani, he is a great player, but a little selfish. He put the team in the position of having to work for him.

“Higuain is more of a team-man, he also allows others to express themselves, like Mertens, Callejon, Insigne, who has only scored two goals this season but is a great player as well as a Neapolitan.”

With Massimo Cellino set to complete a takeover at Leeds United, ADL was asked about his reported interest in investing in an English club.

“Yes, but I was too focused on Napoli. Between the cinema and Napoli, I cannot open up another parenthesis.

“I have also looked to the United States, because I believe that in 10 years they will be protagonists and they have some people who are very capable there and who have increased the value of taking part…

“Beckham is at Miami [launching a franchise], with an investor behind him, but they had also offered it to me. I wanted to think about it, if my health is still there then I will…”

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