We’ll no longer sign African players unless they agree not to play in AFCON — Napoli owner

Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis on Tuesday declared the club will no longer sign any African players unless they agree not to participate in the continents competition, Africa Cup of Nations tournaments.

Recall Senegal defender, Kalidou Koulibaly, who moved from the Seria A club to Premier League side Chelsea and Cameroon midfielder, Andre Zambo Anguissa missed several Napoli games while on international duty at this year’s AFCON, which took place between January and February.

“Or 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,” he said in a Wall Street Italia talk show.

The 73-year-old says he “loves” Napoli’s African players, but he rues having to pay them so much for the amount of time they are away.

“I told them, “lads, don’t talk to me about Africans anymore!”” said De Laurentiis during the streamed event.

“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.”

Reacting to the Napoli president’s comment, Koulibaly in his first news conference as a Chelsea player, expressed his disappointment.

“You have to have respect for the national team, because you cannot speak about African national team like this,” Koulibaly said.

“As captain of Senegal I think it’s not a good way to speak about an African national team. But I respect what it is. If he thinks the team can play without African players, it’s up to him. Not everybody has the same idea as him in the club.”

De Laurentiis also criticised the fact that clubs were agreeing to more and more games, suggesting a European tournament with the top clubs from the strongest five countries instead of the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League.

“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.”

%d bloggers like this: