Napoli Boss Rules Out Osimhen, Others from AFCON 2023
There are strong indications that Super Eagles forward, Victor Osimhen, and other African players in Napoli may miss the next Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
Napoli FC President, Aurelio De Laurentiis, insisted yesterday that he will not sign African players for the club unless they agree to not play at the continental football showpiece for their various countries.
Osimhen and two other African players namely; Senegal defender Kalidou Koulibaly – now at Premier League side Chelsea and Cameroon midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa. Osimhen missed the last edition hosted by Cameroon.
The 73-year-old Napoli boss said though he ‘loves’ Napoli’s African players, he’s pained having to pay them so much for the amount of time they are away.
“I told them lads, don’t talk to me about Africans anymore!’ said De Laurentiis during a streamed event.
“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.”
Last season Napoli lost Kalidou Koulibaly to the AFCON and the centre-back went all the way with Senegal and won the tournament. The 31-year-old has now signed for Chelsea.
Former Fulham man Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa represented Cameroon at the tournament while he was on loan at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.
Ironically, Napoli made his loan a permanent signing back in May, clearly before De Laurentiis formed his stance.
Napoli announced a bout of COVID would keep the prolific Osimhen from representing the Super Eagles, but his withdrawal from selection and the timing of it raised a few eyebrows in Nigeria.
Osimhen scored 18 times in 32 games last season. He played twice more than Zambo Anguissa, but twice less than Koulibaly. The top appearance maker for Napoli, who finished third in Serie A last season, was midfielder Elif Elmas with 46.
The AFCON only takes place every two years and runs for around a month in January. The 2021 tournament was played this year because COVID prevented it from happening the year prior, so there will be back-to-back tournaments with the 2023 edition coming next January.