Aurelio De Laurentiis has launched an astonishing riposte to Gonzalo Higuain’s claim that he was the reason for the striker’s decision to swap Napoli for Juventus, accusing the Argentina international of a “lack of respect towards all Neapolitans”.
Higuain enjoyed three fruitful seasons in a Napoli shirt, not least last term when his Serie A record 36 goals in 35 appearances spearheaded a title challenge that ultimately faded away.
The 28-year-old won the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana during his time at the club, but became frustrated by Napoli’s failure to win the league and moved to champions Juve in a €90million deal this week.
Higuain left the San Paolo under a cloud and explained at his first news conference as a Juve player that a poor relationship with De Laurentiis was the reason for his move.
But the Napoli president has hit back at Higuain, as well as taking aim at his brother and agent Nicolas for his conduct during the transfer negotiations.
In a lengthy statement on the club’s official website, De laurentiis said: “I read Gonzalo Gerardo Higuain’s statements during his unveiling press conference at Juventus and I’d like to comment on the part when, after having said that Juventus is a great family and he is happy to wear their shirt, he claims the main reason why he chose to join that club was me.
“I thought long and hard whether these words deserved any reply, since everyone knows clearly what the truth is. Then, I decided that it was better to say something, just not to be forgotten in the future. Here is my answer.
“1) If Mister Gonzalo Gerardo Higuain was annoyed by my presence, it took him many years to understand it, unless he is a liar or an excellent actor. I would rule the latter out, though, as I know something about actors.
“2) We spent a long time together, even recently. For example an entire day in Rome at the Disciplinary Commission on April 15 in order to have the four-game ban reduced in the middle of the Scudetto race. I assure you that day Gonzalo was very calm and didn’t show any intolerance towards me, as the many people around us that day could testify.
“3) Why on earth his agent never ever showed any impatience the several times we met recently to discuss his contract renewal? Had they been so intolerant towards me they wouldn’t have spent hours with me discussing money, a lot of money, with huge availability and understanding.
“4) Isn’t his agent embarrassed to say that the team where he played and helped him score 38 goals was not up to the challenge? Isn’t he embarrassed to say that Gonzalo’s team-mates were rubbish, when Napoli was the Italian team that had created the most goal chances, something pivotal to let a striker score many goals?
“5) To try and explain that his move is my fault is a huge lack of respect towards all Neapolitans. If Higuain had read Napoli’s history, he would know this city was the only one to get rid alone of the Nazis even before the arrival of the Americans who found the town freed when they entered it. You can betray these people if you are shameless but you can’t take the p*** out of them.”