Former Super Eagles players and new Chelsea signing Kalidou Koulibaly have faulted Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis over his plans to stop signing African players unless they agreed to not take part in the Africa Cup of Nations,
De Laurentiis said on a Wall Street Italia talk show that he would never have Napoli players available for the AFCON.
“I told them, lads, don’t talk to me about Africans anymore!” he said.
“I love them, but either they sign something confirming they’ll back out of playing the Africa Cup of Nations, or otherwise between that 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 playing for others.”
“Or they sign a waiver giving up their right to participate to the Africa Cup of Nations tournaments or between AFCON and the championships in South America … I never have them Napoli players) available,” he said
Speaking with The PUNCH, Eagles defender, Taribo West, who played in Serie A for Milan giants AC and Inter, said, “That is not a good idea at all. Some of these European teams were not happy when African players left for the AFCON in January, but the players returned to their clubs and fitted in. He (De Laurentiis) should not stop the African players from playing at the AFCON. It’s a pride for these players to play for their country as well.”
“I don’t think any African will want to sign for a club that will deny him a chance to represent his fatherland at the AFCON. That will be a setback for such player.”
Haruna Lukman, who captained Nigeria to the 2007 U-17 World Cup title in South Korea, described De Laurentiis comments as “absurd.”
“But it’s his decision,” Lookman said. “These are some of the difficulties most African players face in Europe. Such comments could encourage other Italian clubs from going for African players or include such clauses in deals before they get signed.”
Senegal defender, Kalidou Koulibaly, now at Premier League side Chelsea, also expressed his disappointment.
“The most important thing is to respect everyone,” Koulibaly said.
“When I played there I also played for Senegal… You cannot speak of an African team like this.