Wednesday June 6 2018
Napoli always played hardball

Maurizio Sarri had to know what he was getting himself into when he signed a contract with Aurelio De Laurentiis’ Napoli, argues Marco D’Onofrio.

Aurelio De Laurentiis and Maurizio Sarri may very well have been the best thing to ever happen to each other – until a couple of weeks ago, that is.

The Napoli patron gave a relatively unproven manager in his mid-50s an opportunity with a big club and a platform on which to excel. The Italian tactician had never coached a club in European competition before, and didn’t have any experience managing international stars like Gonzalo Higuain or Marek Hamsik.

But it worked.

Sarri’s sides broke the club points record for three consecutive seasons, and did so by becoming the talk of Europe for their mesmerizing style of play. The Coach finally received the international recognition he deserved, while the President looked like a genius for the appointment. 

Despite all the success on the pitch though, it felt like the Sarri era was coming to an end after falling just short of the Scudetto. He refused to comment on his future - even after the final match of the season against Crotone.

“My only confusion is that in life everything comes to an end. It’s the truth and sometimes it’s better to finish stories while they are good.”

Sarri had suddenly become a hot commodity on the continent and wasn’t sure whether he could take the Partenopei any further than he already had.

As history has proven in the past, De Laurentiis is not always the most patient of men, and was clearly frustrated when he still didn’t have an answer once the season had concluded.

“I don’t know, you’d have to ask him… He always fobbed me off to his agent, who never gave me a reply. Time’s up! There are no more deadlines.”

Knowing that Carlo Ancelotti was willing to come South, De Laurentiis couldn’t afford to wait much longer. The Napoli Coach had been biding his time to see what offers would arrive from abroad, but the club shocked many – including Sarri – by announcing the signing of one of the most decorated managers on the planet.

Sarri quickly found himself left behind, and at the mercy of the Partenopei boss. While Ancelotti was officially unveiled as the new Napoli Coach, Sarri hadn’t been sacked and his €8m release clause was still in effect.

Was it the reason he ultimately won’t land the Chelsea job? Nobody will ever really know. De Laurentiis’ reluctance to nullify the clause certainly didn’t help the Italian’s chances, though. However, it is not all doom and gloom for Sarri, considering he will still be paid his €1.5m salary if he doesn’t find another gig.

He has recently been linked to the suddenly vacant Real Madrid bench, and could still be an attractive option for a plethora of European clubs. But don’t expect De Laurentiis to ease his stance, and Sarri shouldn’t either.

The President has always proven to be a tough negotiator with his players in the past, unwilling to let them go on the cheap or for any less than an agreed release clause. Sarri had to have known what he was getting into when he signed the deal, and was given every opportunity to continue where he was.

It would be heartbreaking and a real shame for fans of the beautiful game if Sarri doesn’t get the opportunity he deserves abroad or is forced to sit out a year. But De Laurentiis was able to rescue Napoli from the abyss and turn them into one of the most financially stable clubs on the Peninsula by playing hardball. That’s not going to change now.  

Have your say...
@FERBAN you are nit-picking, 60th, 65th, etc, purposely to miss the point about Sarri's fundamentalism. You are the only one who thinks Napoli's squad is not fantastic, which is your right, as much as mine to think otherwise, so spare us useless comments if you have nothing interesting to say.
on the 10th June, 2018 at 12:25am
Don't mind Chelsea, who cares them in Italy? What is important for Napoli Juve are buying bench players which Napoli cannot afford as no 1s. An example is Perin. I fond it very unprobably Ancelotti stays for a long in Naples, this international level coach clashes with A. de Laurentis are unavoidable.
on the 9th June, 2018 at 10:48am

It may turn out to be a quiet summer for Chelsea, especially if Abramovich's visa isn't sorted out. He's spending nowhere near the levels he used to for years, so that might have something to do with the slow Sarri resolution.

The days of Chelsea outspending everyone else are long gone.
on the 7th June, 2018 at 9:11am
ADL doesn’t mess around, and is as ruthless as it gets. He’s never had so much publicity in his cinematic life before football, and will build this Napoli into the real deal. Sadly, he has no time for the man who got us playing to the level we’ve been st for 2-3 years. Sarri believed he held all the cards, ADL had other ideas. For me, Sarri deserves whatever he needed to sign on for longer, but it wasn’t to be.
Carlo is a coup, and Napoli are going in a very positive direction.
on the 7th June, 2018 at 4:23am
I also don't understand why Chelsea wouldn't pay the release clause when they would happily pay 10 times as much for a player. Am I missing something?
on the 6th June, 2018 at 11:29pm
I agree with others about Sarri's limitations. He's too idealistic. He wants to pretend the demands of real world squad management don't exist. Football isn't just the theoretical. De Laurentiis is an exceptional businessman and he was right to move for Ancelotti. No one can argue with the job he's doing building Napoli. In my opinion Napoli have a much greater chance of winning the title next season than they would if Sarri stayed.
on the 6th June, 2018 at 7:30pm
I can't see this situation lasting ADL will relent even if it is just a little if he prepared to pay sarri wage for the rest of his contract despite having a coach he is worthless as a managing director. Still chelsea are ridiculous they will spending 60 70 million pounds on 1 player but refuse to pay 4 million euros to buyout a contract.

As for sarri he made napoli competitive against a juve side with twice the wage and transfer budget after years of napoli living outside the top 3.
on the 6th June, 2018 at 7:09pm
De Laurentiis shows his character to the media all the time. He is a bitter small man, who don't know how to loose. When you don't know how to loose, you will never know how to win either. Napoli will soon end up like Milan and Inter, were they belong together with Ancelotti.
on the 6th June, 2018 at 7:01pm
@ Me

"Don't take flaws and turn them into nonsense. You sound like Juventus fans."

And you smell stink like sour fans of interchinazionale.
on the 6th June, 2018 at 6:57pm
Also, the Napoli fans whining...stop whining. You literally have clue about what it is you're complaining for. He cost you nothing, because he made you something. Don't take flaws and turn them into nonsense. You sound like Juventus fans.
on the 6th June, 2018 at 1:42pm
Unfortunately, whether or not Sarri went about things the best way, De Laurentiis is this kind of guy. And it's a shame. Couldn't afford to wait longer...the European season was not yet over.

There is a way to do things, and he doesn't do them right.

And Ancelotti...never the bravest of coaches, clearly.
on the 6th June, 2018 at 1:40pm

He changed the subs most weeks in the 50's or 60's minutes spells, so no idea where you got "no change before 70min, no matter what".

And he wasn't blessed with a fantastic squad. There are no fantastic squads in Italy bar maybe Juve. He had a strong 14 or 15 players, but little after that and an average Reina & Albiol to contend with.

It was clear Napoli needed a few players in January, but the club did nothing except some guy whose done nothing so far. That's not Sarri's fault
on the 6th June, 2018 at 11:59am
I really can't understand how come so many 'big-time' Napoli fans are now smashing Sarri! it was THIS MAN who made Napoli not just a force to be reckon with (they were before also), but gained then so much accolades for their beautiful attacking football - from all football experts at BT Sport, Bein Sport, all over Europe, even the other coaches were saying his team plays the most beautiful football! Remember what Pep said after the dule od MK-City against Napoli? He made some mistakes,but...
on the 6th June, 2018 at 8:31am
Actually, what was (and what is now) wrong with Benitez?
on the 6th June, 2018 at 7:59am
don't worry, Don Carletto is not that good in Liga, he always very slow to istablish himself in liga wich ADL wont have eanouhg patient. he will be sacked in 6 month coz he wont able to shake Allegri's force.

in 6 month sari will be installed again.
on the 6th June, 2018 at 5:37am
...still they e been the buffalo bills of Serie A... had one hand on the scudetto multiple times in multiple seasons and blew it. They’ve progressed under 3 managers who got, what seemed the best outta of them each time.Mazzarri,Benitez,Sarri. now Ancelotti gonna have a go.
on the 6th June, 2018 at 4:03am
100% agree with this! Had to have known what he was signing. ADL doesn't play around. I do feel bad for the guy though.
on the 6th June, 2018 at 3:39am
As soon as Sarri got coy about whether or not he was staying, I knew it was over. It's a bit of a shame - if he'd only done some squad rotation against the teams close to the relegation zone, Napoli might - just might - have won the Scudetto. He certainly could have rested some of his people against four, or even five, teams.
on the 6th June, 2018 at 3:00am
Sarri was blessed by a fantastic squad which he failed to manage properly due to his fundamentalism(no change before minute 70, no matter what, and Insigne is an untouchable god) Sarri has cost us 3 championships due to his stubbiness, He specializes in breaking his players moral (Gabbiadini,Giaccherini, chiriches, Tonelli, Maximovic,Ounas a even Hamsik)I am very happy to see the back of him; he screwed up so many of my weekends because of his nonsensical management. has a big inferiority complex especially towards Allegri.
on the 6th June, 2018 at 1:10am

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