Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has controversially suggested the club will not sign African players unless they make agreements not to play in the Africa Cup of Nations.
Last season, Napoli were without Cameroon international Andre-Franck Zambo Anguissa and Senegal defender Kalidou Koulibaly during their participation in Africa’s showpiece tournament, the latter of whom went on to win the tournament and has since departed Naples for Chelsea.
Striker Victor Osimhen could have been another player to travel to the tournament in Cameroon to play for Nigeria, but an injury ruled him out.
The next AFCON is due to be played in the Ivory Coast in 2024, and De Laurentiis says the club would want some sort of commitment from any player joining Napoli that they would be willing to skip the tournament.
“I told them: lads, don’t talk to me about Africans anymore,” De Laurentiis told a streamed event in quotes reported by Football Italia.
“I love them, but either they sign something confirming they’ll back out of playing the Africa Cup of Nations, or otherwise between that tournament, the World Cup qualifiers in South America, these players are never available!
“We are the idiots who pay salaries only to send them all over the world playing for others.”
— Victor Osimhen (@victorosimhen9) July 31, 2022
De Laurentiis also revealed how he rebuked the advances of American investors in an offer worth $900million back in the 2017-18 season.
“In recent years these investment funds have become fashionable, they have to guarantee their investors a certain revenue within five years,” the 73-year-old added.
“They saw that football is a great opportunity and they can double their investment by selling clubs to investment funds in future. That’s what Milan and Inter have done, right?
“I am assailed by funds, I can’t take it anymore. In 2017-18, an American fund offered me $900m to sell Napoli. But they don’t realise I am this pure entrepreneur who enjoys playing the game, so let me keep playing.”
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