As Maurizio Sarri finally settles in to life as Chelsea boss, Aurelio De Laurentiis has continued his very public war of words on his former Coach. Sarri, of course, made no secret of his desire to move to the 2016-17 Premier League winners and it took the best part of two months for the Azzurri patron to release the Neapolitan from his contract.
This was despite already having Carlo Ancelotti at the helm and in a campaign of small margins, the close season fallout could have disastrous consequences for a Napoli side who came agonisingly close to achieving the Scudetto in May.
Ancelotti, aside from Cristiano Ronaldo, is probably the most prodigious name to arrive in Italian football this summer and it wasn’t easy for the serial winning tactician to not only end his sabbatical, but to move to a side not guaranteed to win trophies.
With respect to Napoli, they are not a Real Madrid or Bayern Munich and it has so far been a frustrating summer for the ex-Milan tactician. Ancelotti is still waiting for a stellar name to arrive at the San Paolo and it's unlikely he would have agreed to the job without assurances of a sizeable transfer kitty to compete with the Bianconeri.
Edinson Cavani, Angel Di Maria and Arturo Vidal are just three names linked to a transfer to Napoli but patron De Laurentiis has rubbished the possibility of each respective rumour.
Former crowd favourite Cavani has a reported €55m price tag over his head, a sum deemed too expensive for the Napoli owner despite the goals the Uruguayan would guarantee. Cavani has plundered over 100 goals in the last three seasons with Paris Saint-Germain and if he did become available, the Italian club should do all they can to bring the player back to Campania.
While Dries Mertens performed to a fine level as a false 9 in the 2016-17 term, the Belgian’s numbers did not match the same heights in the following campaign. For a club harbouring ambitions on both the domestic and European stage, Napoli need a top class striker, but De Laurentiis is more interested in fuelling a grudge against Sarri.
Sarri, a confrontational figure himself, certainly wasn’t shy in saying how he felt, but spent almost the entirety of his spell at Napoli under pressure from his President. De Laurentiis openly blamed the 59-year-old for the Southerners' failure in last term’s title race, despite the fact his side amassed 91 points.
The film producer also has a penchant for criticising his players and the 3-1 defeat against Los Blancos in the 2016-17 Champions League was particularly striking. Bar hometown hero Lorenzo Insigne, each starter endured a public dressing down and De Laurentiis continues to lack awareness for the efforts of his squad.
While De Laurentiis’ fiery style can be beneficial for the Partenopei - see his refusal to release Sarri until being granted assurances half the squad wouldn’t be heading to Stamford Bridge with him - many of his public pronouncements draw eye rolls, such as telling a Napoli fan to “support Juventus” if he wanted guaranteed success.
The President rightly is fond of reminding Neapolitans that he came from working with Angelina Jolie to save the club from financial ruin, and the transformation under his tenure has been remarkable. The Vesuviani have gone from armageddon to Scudetto challengers, and the owner deserves immense credit, but there's no use in making a statement of intent by getting Ancelotti, only to undermine the club in the transfer market.
As it stands, time is running out for Napoli with just under four weeks until domestic action restarts. With much to do in the market, the Azzurri currently find themselves adrift of not only Juventus, but Inter and Roma. The aforementioned clubs are better equipped and have invested wisely this summer, while Napoli struggle to get new faces through the door. Ancelotti is likely to want at least three or four new additions, and it is the Coach and his players who will suffer without reinforcements.
Player additions aside, De Laurentiis must also be careful of his treatment of Ancelotti. The three-time Champions League winner has felt immense pressure from the boards of Real Madrid, and to a lesser extent Bayern Munich, and won’t tolerate a repeat of the conditions he was under at these super clubs. Ancelotti demands - and deserves - respect, and unlike Maurizio Sarri isn't coming from a background of Serie C struggle.
If De Laurentiis doesn’t curb his ways, he could be looking for a new Coach long before the signed three-year contract ends.
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