Napoli President Aurelio De Laurentiis has said that he will no longer buy players who turn out for African national teams. De Laurentiis has claimed that he will only buy African players unless they vow not to represent their countries at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
In a controversial statement bound to cause widespread reactions from African football stakeholders, De Laurentiis has said that it is unfair for European clubs to keep paying salaries to these players while they are representing other interests.
“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”. De Laurentiis said to football Italia.
Napoli currently has some of the continent’s top players. Victor Osimhen is a regular striker for the Super Eagles for Nigeria, while Zambo Franck-Anguissa is a midfield lynchpin for the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon.
The scheduling of AFCON has always conflicted with European major leagues, with most editions happening in January when the leagues are in full swing. At this year’s edition, there was contention over Watford and Nigeria striker Emmanuel Dennis after he failed to report to his national side.
The governing body for African football has always planned for the continent’s top bonanza in January, given that Africa has adverse weather conditions in most of its parts around June and July. Next year’s showpiece has already been pushed forward.
– Ferdinand A Baah, Sports Journalist