Napoli President Aurelio de Laurentiis has vowed never to sign another African player unless a promise is made not to take part in the Africa Cup of Nations.
According to Football Italia, De Laurentiis made this known at a live-streamed event.
The 73-year-old’s comment may not be unconnected to Super Eagles striker Victor Osimhen’s frequent national team duties.
Last season, Osimhen suffered a serious fracture to his face following a collision with Inter‘s Milan Skrinier and had to undergo surgery.
He also tested positive for COVID-19 but came out to declare himself fit for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon early this year but did not eventuality feature.
The Serie A club has just two Africans currently in their squad, Osimhen and Cameroon star André-Frank Zambo Anguissa.
Senegal skipper, Kalidou Koulibaly recently joined Chelsea after spending eight years at Napoli.
However Anguissa and Koulibaly represented their countries with the latter leading Senegal to a first ever AFCON title.
And fielding questions at the live-steamed event, De Laurentiis said:“I told them, lads, don’t talk to me about Africans anymore.
“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,” De Laurentiis said.
Napoli club lawyer, Mattia Grassani, had stated back in December in reaction to the COVID outbreak that the club will take legal actions to ‘protect their players’ after Osimhen declared himself fit and available to represent Nigeria at the AFCON.
“Considering the epidemiological situation, there could be legal action, because this tournament (AFCON) takes away valuable resources from the clubs,” Grassani said last year in reaction to the COVID19 outbreak.
“It is a particular historic moment, so it would be different if we felt 99 per cent confident of the situation. The clubs invested a lot of money for signing players like Victor Osimhen, so if he were to become infected, that’d be tough to deal with.
“The first step would be legal action to prevent the call-up, then if there were concrete elements to sue because the health standards are not the same as in European competitions, then there could be more appeals to gain an exemption for Europe-based players.”