Napoli president De Laurentiis vows not to sign any African players participating in AFCON

Aurelio De Laurentiis Napoli chairmanGetty Images

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has claimed the Italian club will not sign African players unless they agree to a clause which will see them miss out on the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

Napoli had to release Senegal defender Kalidou Koulibaly, who has now jumped ship to Chelsea, and Cameroon midfielder Andre Zambo Anguissa for several matches last season as they went to fulfil their international commitments with their respective countries.

De Laurentiis will now make the African players sign an undertaking that they will not participate in AFCON before they get to wear the blue jersey of Napoli.

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What did De Laurentiis say about signing African players?

"I told them, lads, don't talk to me about Africans anymore!" he said during Smart Talk on Wall Street 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."

Napoli and Nigeria's Victor Oshimen did not travel to play in AFCON as the club announced that the Covid-19 virus would keep the forward away from action.

The AFCON takes place every two years but due to Covid-19, the 2021 edition of the tournament was postponed to 2022. Hence there will be back-to-back tournaments with the 2023 edition coming next January.

How has Koulibaly responded to De Laurentiis?

Kalidou Koulibaly has hit back at De Laurentiis for his remarks.

"As the captain of Senegal, I don't think it is the best way to speak. If that's what he thinks then it is up to him. I know everyone at Napoli and the supporters and I know they don't see it like this. The city is very respectful," the defender said.

De Laurentiis: No more fake tournaments

The Napoli official touched on another controversial nerve and mooted an idea of a European tournament with the top clubs from the top-five leagues instead of the existing structure of the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League.

"The five most important countries have to have their own tournament. Enough of these fake competitions like Champions, Europa, and Conference League, the latter is stupid," he said.

"They are abandoning it because the championship is phoney and no longer competitive. We want to talk about next season? They have signed an agreement to play a World Cup in Qatar in the winter.

"Qatar has the PSG that pays the big salaries because every minute it drives out the oil. The next will be a super great training championship, divided into two parts.

"The world of football cannot self manage because we do the puppet show for others. if we could play 100 games, it would be a happy ending for everyone and we (clubs) like cretins agree to that."