A month ago, rumors exploded that Aurelio De Laurentiis was considering selling Napoli. The rumors coincided with his preparations to go on a trip to America, leading speculation to mount that his trip was, in part, designed to meet with interested parties.
Napoli came out not long after and strongly denied the rumors, but they've never gone quite fully away. Now, less than a week after De Laurentiis returned from that trip, rumors have again grown loud of a sale... but now we have more details.
This is the headline that's exploded out of Qatar and is gaining traction in Italy: "Napoli will be sold to Hamad bin Khalifa Ahmad Al Thani after the Super Cup." Al Thani is the former Emir of Qatar and is a massively wealthy and successful man, albeit one with a slightly checkered past. The most important aspect in regards to a potential sale or investment, though, is that "massively wealthy" part, which is rather understating things; Al Thani holds over $100 billion in investments around the world through the Qatar Investment Authority, and likely can marshal significantly more in the way of financial assets as a patriarch of the Qatari royal family.
Report: De Laurentiis considering selling Napoli
According to reports in Italy, Napoli owner and President Aurelio De Laurentiis is headed to America to lay the groundwork for a potential sale of the club.
The reported timing of the announcement is no coincidence. With the Supercoppa Italiana scheduled to be played in Doha, Qatar on December 22nd, making the announcement with the club there makes perfect sense, especially during the middle of Italy's winter break in the match schedule.
Napoli have yet to issue any sort of denial of these rumors, though to be fair there hasn't been much of a chance to yet. Far more curious, though, is the silence of Aurelio De Laurentiis. Napoli's president is a man who rarely lets more than a week go by without saying something to the press, but he hasn't said a word since he returned to Naples from his American adventure. Even the denial the club issued to the original sale rumors didn't read like anything De Laurentiis would say, rather the cold neutrality of standard corporate PR speak.
It's even stranger than that, though. De Laurentiis' silence stretches back even further than just his trip; according to Tuttonapoli's checking of his press releases, De Laurentiis hasn't given an interview since September 3rd. That's truly bizarre behavior, but it does make sense in the context of a potential sale, as many men in his position batten down the hatches while they focus on preparing what needs to be done to get everything finalized.
In this case, the silence potentially speaks volumes all on its own.
How a sale affects Napoli is entirely up in the air. How much could be invested, whether or not they want to keep Rafa Benitez, and a number of other factors could dramatically change the entire shape of the club. This is an exciting and scary time to be a Napoli fan with rumors like this swirling around. Time to ride the whirlwind.