Napoli President Aurelio De Laurentiis on “exaggerated” Real Madrid demands for James Rodriguez, delaying Eljif Elmas, Rodrigo rejection and why he “wouldn’t exchange Mauro Icardi with Lorenzo Insigne.”
The patron sat down with the Corriere dello Sport for a lengthy interview and covered all the major transfer stories that have seen the Partenopei take centre-stage this summer.
“I often hear people say that Napoli need a top player, as if the ones we already have don’t fit the bill: your Kalidou Koulibaly, your Insigne, your Allan, for whom we turned down an offer of €70m, but also your Jose Callejon, Dries Mertens, Piotr Zielinski and Fabian Ruiz, who was a sensational purchase that few pay attention to.
“I could cite all of them, such as Alex Meret for example, but that would just take up time. I could maybe add those we purchased over the years: Pocho Lavezzi, Fabio Quagliarella, Edinson Cavani, Gonzalo Higuain, Pepe Reina… You want more?
“The most pressing need right now, I’d say the priority, is to sell. We have many players in the squad and it’s right to reduce the group, but we are also active and attentive on the market.”
It’s widely reported that James Rodriguez will reject Atletico Madrid in order to join Napoli, although negotiations with Real Madrid continue.
“He is the player who, after Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi, is the most media-friendly. Carlo Ancelotti really likes him and we are waiting for a more reasonable request.
“The stumbling block is represented by Real Madrid, who have in our view exaggerated expectations. But James wants to join Napoli.”
There were reports in Spain on Wednesday that Valencia forward Rodrigo had turned down a move to Napoli and De Laurentiis seemed to confirm it.
“He prefers to remain in Spain. He told us that and we accept it.”
Negotiations are at an advanced stage with Fenerbahce for 19-year-old midfielder Eljif Elmas.
“We have a great deal of consideration for him, we can’t deny that, but need to complete sales first to avoid overcrowding the squad. That is never productive.”
The interview was all leading up to the issue of Icardi, amid rumours Napoli are battling Juventus and Atletico Madrid for the Inter striker, who is valued at €60m.
“Ancelotti said he wouldn’t exchange Icardi with Lorenzo Insigne and he’s right. Icardi may well always want to join Juventus, but I prefer Lorenzo to him too, because he’s the one we need, while we already have Arkadiusz Milik and Dries Mertens upfront.
“I won’t deny we asked after Icardi. I won’t deny he has talent: Icardi is an excellent player, but so much has been said about him, he now seems older than his 26 years.
“Seen from afar, he gives off the impression that he hasn’t been dealt with properly and didn’t understand the importance of the role he has. But our admiration for him as a player is undoubted.”