Luciano Spalletti has praised Santos for not retiring Pele’s number 10 shirt and hopes Napoli now do the same with Diego Maradona’s famous jersey.
Santos announced on Sunday they had dropped plans to leave the number vacant following last week’s death of club legend Pele, who previously said he was against the idea.
Napoli retired Maradona’s number 10 in 2000, 20 years before his death, as a tribute to the Argentina great’s starring role in their only two Serie A title triumphs.
But Spalletti believes making the shirt available again can inspire Napoli’s current crop of players, who are on course to end the club’s 33-year wait for Scudetto glory.
“I want to congratulate those who decided not to retire Pele’s number 10, meeting his request,” Spalletti said at a pre-match press conference on Tuesday.
“When you retire a shirt, you no longer see it. Pele’s number should be shown as many times as possible. Congratulations to those who didn’t retire the number 10.”
Asked directly about Maradona’s retired number 10 shirt, Spalletti said: “I think it’s correct to wear the number of great players.
“Seeing it every day gives more responsibility to those wearing it and also to their team-mates, who would be motivated to reach that level.”
Napoli return to action after the World Cup break with an eight-point lead over Milan at the top of Serie A, having dropped just four points from their opening 14 matches.
The Partenopei have won each of their past 11 Serie A matches – the last team to register a longer streak was Juventus between December 2017 and March 2018 (12 wins).
Spalletti’s side face a tough test on Wednesday at fifth-place Inter, whom they have lost their past four league matches against at San Siro.
While a first Scudetto since the days of Maradona is in sight, Spalletti insists he is not obsessed by finishing top.
“The Scudetto is your obsession, not mine,” he told reporters. “My obsession is to see this city explode in joy.
“We have an awareness of what we have done on the pitch. We’ll face a great team. We’ll play our brand of football which has given benefits to the team.
“Inter are a top team. Over the last three and a half years, they’ve made investments worthy of a top European club.”
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