Aurelio De Laurentiis, president of Napoli, has vowed that he will no longer buy players who play for African national teams.
De Laurentiis states that he will only buy African talents if they promise not to compete for their nations at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
De Laurentiis has tried to argue that it is unfair for European teams to continue paying salaries to these players while they are serving other interests, which is sure to elicit strong reactions from African football stakeholders.
“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. We are the idiots who pay salaries only to send them all over the world playing for others.”
Currently, Napoli has some of the best players on the continent. Zambo Franck-Anguissa holds the Cameroonian midfield for the Indomitable Lions, whereas Victor Osimhen is a prominent striker for the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
The bulk of AFCON editions take place in January, when the main leagues in Europe are in full effect, and this scheduling clash has existed since the inception. This year’s competition saw controversy around Nigerian striker Emmanuel Dennis of Watford after he failed to report to his national team.
Given that the majority of Africa has unfavorable weather in June and July, the continent’s premier football event has usually been scheduled for January. The centerpiece for next year has already been moved up.
Kalidou Koulibaly, a former captain of Napoli, is the reigning AFCON champion after guiding Senegal to victory earlier this year.