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Napoli president says he won’t sign African players ‘unless they sign Africa Cup of Nations deal’

Naples President Aurelio De Laurentiis said he would not sign any more African players “unless they sign a deal to leave the Africa Cup of Nations‘.

Earlier this year, Senegalese defender Kalidou Koulibaly, who recently joined Chelsea, featured at this year’s AFCON alongside Cameroonian midfielder Andre Zambo Anguissa.

The pair missed a number of Napoli games when they were away on international duty between January and February.

Senegal’s Kalidou Koulibaly and Egypt’s Mohamed Salah with official referee Victor Gomes pose for a photo during the Africa Cup of Nations final between Senegal and Egypt. Image: Alamy

Months later and De Laurentiis appeared on a live broadcast with Wall Street Italy when he expressed his views on African players participating in the biennial tournament.

“I told them guys, don’t talk to me about Africans anymore!” De Laurentiis said during the event via Football Italia.

“I love them, but whether they sign something confirming that they will be out of the Africa Cup of Nations, or else between this 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 to play for others.”

ESPN quote the 73-year-old: “Or they sign a waiver giving up their right to participate in the African Cup of Nations tournaments or between AFCON and the leagues in South America.

“I never have them [Napoli players] available.”

Cameroon’s Andre Zambo Anguissa during the Africa Cup of Nations semi-final match between Cameroon and Egypt. Image credit: Alamy

Speaking to the WSL, De Laurentiis also claims he turned down a $900 million bid to buy Serie A side Napoli from American investors.

“In recent years these investment funds have become fashionable, they have to guarantee their investors a certain income within five years,” he said.

“They saw that football is a big opportunity and they can double their investment by selling clubs to investment funds in the future. That’s what Milan and Inter have done, right?

“The funds are attacking me, I can’t take it anymore. In 2017-18, an American fund offered me 900 million dollars to sell Napoli. But they don’t understand that I’m this pure businessman who likes to play the game, so let me keep playing.”

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