Antonio Conte’s tenure at Chelsea ended in discord, drama, and plenty of disputes that may yet be continuing in court rooms, but his replacement Maurizio Sarri didn’t exactly have a clean exit at Napoli either. In fact, part of what made Conte’s exit so rancorous and drawn out was because Sarri was essentially held hostage by Napoli, who had already appointed his successor two months prior to actually agreeing to his Chelsea transfer (the financial details of which are still a mystery).
The conflict between Sarri and De Laurentiis, just like Conte and Abramovich, turned obviously personal. Unlike Abramovich however, ADL is very talkative and has had no qualms about throwing his ex-manager under the bus. In his latest comments, the Napoli owner in fact places all the blame on Sarri, accepting no responsibility for how he handled the summer’s biggest soap opera.
“I didn’t like it when he said that we both made mistakes, I don’t think I made any.”
De Laurentiis would clearly be one of those people who would answer the classic interview question about “what’s your biggest weakness” by saying that his biggest weakness is actually a strength, which is of course nonsense, but 25 per cent of the time, it works every time.
“I wasn’t wrong not to challenge him, even if it would’ve been most obvious thing. He had a contract, so I could’ve said something because he was acting in an unacceptable manner, going against players he didn’t think were very good.
“These players gave him a lot. He massacred them in his fantastic training sessions, but they always responded well.”
In fairness, throwing his support behind his players is a shrewd move, and very similar to statements made by Chelsea after Mourinho’s (second) sacking in December 2015.
“After that, he wanted to take my whole team to England and dismantle it. I had to lay down the law to Marina [Granovskaia, Chelsea director]. He wanted Jorginho and I gave him away after I talked to Ancelotti, who told me he was banking a lot on Diawara and that he wanted to move Hamsik deeper.”
-Aurelio De Laurentiis; source: Football Italia
That last bit refers to the often rumored pact of “non-belligerence”, wherein Sarri wouldn’t urge Chelsea to go after Napoli’s players (especially those with buyout clauses). Sarri may or may not have actually wanted to “dismantle” the team (probably not), but Chelsea acquiring players familiar with his system is certainly helpful. But Jorginho would’ve been a good signing regardless — same goes for Rugani, though less so for Higuain.
In any case, that was your brief glimpse into the mind of Bond-villain Aurelio De Laurentiis. Good luck to Carlo, who certainly can pick them in terms of club owners to work for (especially at Chelsea, Real Madrid, Milan, and now Napoli).
And good luck to Sarri and us as well. Maybe we’ll avoid the discord this time?