Aurelio De Laurentiis discussed changing Napoli for Gennaro Gattuso, sacking Carlo Ancelotti, why Zlatan Ibrahimovic is not a priority and slamming the Inter door on Dries Mertens.
The President spoke to reporters including Sky Sport Italia and Sportitalia while attending the Milan 120th anniversary celebrations.
“I am totally in sync with Gattuso, who is a great worker. He did well at Milan and is the right profile for us, as was Carlo, who remains an extraordinary person.
“Now we need a great deal of patience, nerves of steel and cool heads. I tell that above all to the fans. They want to win at all costs, but football has changed and it has become far more complex.”
Gattuso said he accepted the job because Napoli have the players for his preferred 4-3-3 system, whereas Ancelotti had tried to make them use 4-4-2.
“Napoli were known all over Europe for Maurizio Sarri’s 4-3-3 approach, and Gattuso did well with this system at Milan. Now we need patience, because some remember how to play in that shape and others still need to assimilate it,” continued De Laurentiis.
“Gattuso likes to do his work on the pitch, so I hope the players follow his directives and realise that they need to follow him.”
The decision to sack Ancelotti just hours after he took Napoli into the Champions League Round of 16 sent shockwaves across Europe.
“I can only wish Ancelotti all the best. He is an extraordinary person and a great friend. Once we reach the end of the season, I’ll look at everything and understand what went wrong or who was wrong. We will draw a definitive line.”
It has been reported that Ibrahimovic is more likely to join Napoli now that his old Milan teammate Gattuso is at the helm, but ADL poured cold water over these rumours.
“Zlatan is a great person with a strong character. We thought about Ibrahimovic when Ancelotti was in charge, as he would’ve taken a certain role.
“Now before thinking about him, I have other priorities, as this is a team that must play in a different system with a very high line and a defence that cannot allow what it allowed against Parma.
“We must focus first and foremost on what we have in house and then to reinforce the midfield. It’s a pity all the work we had done for Ancelotti now has to be scrapped and we start again working for Gattuso’s ideas. We start from scratch, but do not lack enthusiasm.”
When asked about players potentially leaving Napoli, De Laurentiis pulled no punches.
“Everyone could stay or leave. I don’t need stupid questions trying to create headlines out of thin air.”
What of the specific reports that Inter are trying to bring in Mertens during the January transfer window?
“He has a contract that means he can go anywhere except for another club within Italy. Is that clear enough for you?”
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