August 04, (THEWILL) – Vexed social media reactions have trailed comments from Napoli president, Aurelio De Laurentiis, after he is reported to have said he would never sign an African player unless the player agreed to skip the Africa Cup of Nations.
The Partenopeans’ set-up from the previous season was built around an African backbone. Kalidou Koulibaly was the pillar of the defence, while Osimhen was leading the attack. Although Zambo Anguissa played a significant role, he was not one of their key players.
With the exception of Osimhen, who returned to Naples after Nigeria was knocked out midway through the competition, Napoli did not have any African stars during the last AFCON. Their absence was not much felt, though, as Luciano Spalletti’s team only dropped points in only one game throughout the period.
Koulibaly, who left Napoli for Chelsea this summer, wasted no time in reacting. He said: “You cannot speak about an African national team like this. You have to have respect like you have for a European team.” In other more angry reactions, football fans called for Nigerian forward, Victor Osimhen, to quit the club labelling the comments disrespectful and racist.
The example of Liverpool, who suffered the most absences during AFCON, as key strikers Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah were away throughout not still reached the UCL final and challenged for the EPL until the last day to finish with a domestic double (EFL and FA Cups) is evidence that AFCON was not Napoli’s problem.