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Napoli owner denies ever talking to Chelsea about Maurizio Sarri

Wait, what?

SSC Napoli v OGC Nice Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

In a wide-ranging and once again remarkably open (and thus presumably honest) interview with Corriere dello Sport, Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis laid bare his club’s transfer plans, including their goalkeeper conundrum, their ongoing Jorginho negotiations with Manchester City, his wait for a Hamsik offer from China, and a few potential signings. He also talked about not letting other teams take advantage of his club in terms of poaching players, or ex-manager Maurizio Sarri for that matter, who’s still on the books.

Contrary to yesterday’s reports, which claimed that Chelsea and Napoli were closing in on a gentlemen’s agreement for Sarri (a free-ish transfer in exchange for Chelsea not poaching players as well), ADL paints a very different picture.

“I never received any calls from Chelsea, even if they are announced via the newspapers. If that were to happen, I would sit politely and listen, reflect and then give the response that was best for Napoli.”

Wait, what?

“I want to make one thing clear: this is not a club to be pillaged, this is not a club to be underestimated. I am here to discuss and have already said that, if called, I would be reasonable.

“I’ve not spoken to Sarri since then and he never called either. After the final match of the season against Crotone, I waited, but neither he nor his manager Pellegrini made themselves heard. I took that into consideration and thought about a phrase my father said: In life you should never let yourself be surprised. I don’t reproach Sarri, as if anything I should’ve set the rules and objectives at the start of the season. But being great gentlemen is a characteristic in the behaviour of the De Laurentiis family.”

-Aurelio De Laurentiis; source: CdS via Football Italia

As evidenced by his rather petty treatment of Sarri’s contract situation, it was already pretty clear that De Laurentiis was taking this whole thing quite personally. But his revelation that he’s never actually talked to Chelsea casts doubt on any of the recent reports of potential progress for an agreement, even if the people in charge of negotiations are intermediaries and agents and such (ADL admits in another part of the interview that others are handling the Jorginho negotiations; surely he’d not be remiss to mention that if that was also true for the Sarri negotiations).

Where does that leave us? Unless ADL is flat-out lying, nowhere good. Chelsea supposedly have a “total agreement” with Sarri himself, but if he cannot free himself from his Napoli contract, those personal terms won’t do us any good.

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