Nothing like the first day of preseason camp, right? Players arriving, having medicals, jogging about trying to look busy, Rafa Benitez in shorts yelling at people for no apparent reason, and Aurelio De Laurentiis having a chat with the media.
Interviews with De Laurentiis are rarely a dull affair, and he certainly had some interesting tidbits for us today. The first thing he did was address the annoying rumors that he and Rafa don't get along, something that's been slowly simmering for the last six months at least. "I'm very calm," De Laurenttis said. "Benitez gives me peace of mind, we have been in line with each other since the first meeting."
That certainly sounds a long way from rumors of constant disagreements and sullen silences between the two, eh?
De Laurentiis also had some interesting thoughts on Napoli's transfer activity.
Fans can say what they want, but we can not please them if we only buy new players without allowing our other players to grow. It's part of the game, but we are working with the coach in a serious way for the pieces we need. Michu or [Lucas] Leiva are newcomers we're working to get under contract, but I would like to bring in someone else as well. Who? Maybe there is a third name coming ... "
That last bit is delightfully vague, and very much in line with the Aurelio De Laurentiis we know and love. It certainly lends credence to Di Marzio's report from the other day that Napoli are looking to "shock" everyone with what they do this summer.
He also confirmed that Michu and Lucas are on their way in, which we pretty much already knew, but it's still nice to get confirmation from about as official a source as you can get. Both are moves that we've talked about here a fair bit already, and both are very, very easy to like for Napoli.
As to the rumors of Gonzalo Higuain heading to Barcelona, De Laurentiis was very succinct: "Do not move, stay with us." That gets the point across nicely, doesn't it?
Interestingly, De Laurentiis also spent some time talking about the Supercoppa Italiana. As you may recall, Napoli, Juventus, and the FIGC agreed to move the match to the winter break last month after Napoli raised concerns over the match interfering with their ability to succeed in their Champions League playoff round matches next month. The match is slated to be played in Beijing (which was part of the problem), but apparently De Laurentiis and Juve president Andrea Agnelli aren't too thrilled about that locale.
"Agnelli agrees with me that [the Supercoppa] should be played in Italy at Christmas. The players have a right to be at home and go on vacation, and going to [China] is a waste of time it would not be easy. What about Milan as the final venue? If it was ok with Inter and AC Milan that could be an important venue, a big and beautiful stadium, and easily accessible."
It's hard to argue with his point. Packing up and heading to China right after the break starts would be massively disruptive to the players and staff involved, and would pretty much destroy any Christmas plans they had with their families. There is supposedly a degree of contractual obligation to have the Supercoppa in Beijin, but if a better alternative can be found, it should be used.
So, just another chapter in the "De Laurentiis is awesome" story. Some good information, the dispelling of a rumor, and of course he couldn't go without stirring up just a little bit of controversy. For various reasons, parts of the Napoli fanbase either don't like De Laurentiis or plain despise him, but the simple truth is this: without ADL, Napoli wouldn't be anywhere near the club it is today.