Napoli President Aurelio De Laurentiis has sparked reactions after he declared that he will no longer sign African players unless they sign a waiver not to play in the Africa Cup of Nations.
The 73-year-old Italian has highlighted major issues that are plaguing European clubs including the African Nations cup which always depletes the squad and minimizes the depth and quality of European clubs. Aurelio was particularly furious with the situation as he highlighted the wreckage that Napoli faced due to the absence of some players who joined their country in the 2021-2022 African Cup Of Nations. According to him, before he will consider giving any African player a chance in Napoli, the player must sign a waiver surrendering his right to play in the African Cup Of Nations.
African Players At Napoli
Napoli has a set of refined and quality African players in the team. The likes of Kalidou Koulibaly and Andre Zambo Anguissa, including Nigeria international Victor Osimhen played for the Azzuri. Aurelio was clearly upset with the likes of Kalidou Koulibaly, who is now a Chelsea player.
Kalidou was the vice-captain of the Italian giants and had to leave to join his country in the 2021-2022 African cup Of Nations. The Senegal international won the competition with Senegal. Cameroon midfielder Andre Sambo Anguissa was also missed by the Azzuri to the 2021-2022 AFCON tournament.
Addressing Wall Street Italia, Aurelio stated clearly that his potential signings from Africa must be ready to relinquish their rights to play in the AFCON tournament or there will be no deal.
“I can not sign African players any longer unless they sign a waiver giving up their right to participate to the Africa Cup of Nations tournaments or between AFCON and the championships in South America.I never have them (Napoli players) available,” Aurelio said.
Kalidou Koulibaly Responds
Former Napoli defender and Chelsea player, Kalidou Koulibaly, has responded to Aurelio’s comments. Koulibaly admitted that he respects the opinion of his former Boss, but have reservations about his comment. According to Koulibaly, Aurelio is speaking disrespectfully to African teams, and cannot do the same to European teams.
“I respect his opinion, but I think not everybody shares this idea at Napoli. You cannot speak to African teams this way. You need to have respect, like you have for European teams,” Koulibaly said.
Napoli’s Form After The Absence Of African Players
The Azzurri missed some star African players to the 2021-2022 AFCON, but they were able to pull a series of fantastic Serie A performances in the period. Napoli won all four matches and drew with another Serie A giants Inter Milan. They did not lose any match in the period nor did they lose any of their African players to injury. However, Aurellio has insisted that his potential signings from Africa must avoid AFCON or risk no deal with the club. Napoli is one of the top clubs in Serie A with a pool of African stars.
Aurelio Raised Other Issues Affecting European Clubs
Apart from his stand on African players, Aurelio raised other sundry issues affecting European clubs while speaking to Wall Street Italia. According to him, European club competitions are putting unbearable pressure on teams, making them vulnerable. Aurelia fingered European competitions such as Champions League, Europa League, and Europa conference League.
He suggested that UEFA should restructure European club competitions to favor teams. According to him, a European club tournament comprising of top clubs in the top 5 leagues in Europe should be made to replace other European club competitions.
Although Aurelio’s suggestion brought back the ghosts of the proposed Super League initiated by Real Madrid President Florentino Perez, Aurelio criticised the Super League’s elitist model. He suggested that the new European club tournament will be more inclusive.
Furthermore, he urged clubs to reject tight and cumbersome match schedules and fixtures. He also objected to the current trend, in which clubs accept to play more and more games within a short period