Irate Napoli Club President Provides Update on Pursuit of James Rodriguez & Mauro Icardi

Napoli club president Aurelio de Laurentiis has forcefully denied rumours regarding a move for Inter striker Mauro Icardi and has also spoken out on the ‘unfair demands’ made by Real Madrid for James Rodriguez. 

The Italian side finished second in Serie A last season – 11 points behind Juventus. As a result, the club are looking to strengthen this summer as they attempt to dislodge I Bianconeri.


?I Partenopei have been keen on James for a while now and ?thought they had concluded a loan deal for him with an obligation to buy. Since then however, Los Blancos have seemingly pulled the plug on a deal and are now holding out for a €42m permanent sale. As a result, the Napoli club president has decided to speak out. 

“?James’ problem is that we have to negotiate with ?Real Madrid,” he told Radio Kiss Kiss (?via Football Italia).

“We don’t want to give in to their unfair demands. Time will tell.”

De Laurentiis later went on to talk about speculation surrounding a possible move for ?Mauro Icardi. The Argentine is looking for a way out of Inter after being stripped of the captaincy in February and was dropped. It has ?previously been reported that Napoli had made an offer for the striker, but that has now been rubbished by Napoli’s president. 

“It’s a load of nonsense. I met her [Icardi’s agent Wanda Nara] three years ago and I’m not going to meet her again, also because Napoli don’t need Icardi,” de Laurentiis exclaimed.

Mauro Icardi

The president spoke highly of a move for James and reiterated his desire to complete a deal but at this moment in time, it appears as though Real Madrid are unwilling to budge on their demands. Meanwhile, Icardi’s future remains up in the air but it now seems that his next destination will not be Napoli. 


Napoli Unwilling to Exchange Lorenzo Insigne in Pursuit of Inter Wantaway Mauro Icardi

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis claims he is not willing to exchange winger Lorenzo Insigne in order to land Mauro Icardi from Inter.

The Argentine striker is widely expected to leave San Siro this summer after a high-profile falling out between the club’s hierarchy, Icardi himself and his wife, and agent, Wanda Nara.

Mauro Emanuel Icardi

Atletico Madrid and Juventus have been earmarked as two potential destinations for Icardi, with both reportedly keen to snare the prolific goalscorer. In recent days, though, Napoli have emerged as surprised contenders to sign him – even though the two teams have similar ambitions of dethroning Juventus from their Serie A perch.

But vocal club president De Laurentiis has dismissed speculation that Insigne could be used as a makeweight in any possible deal, citing his importance to Napoli’s cause.

“Ancelotti said he wouldn’t exchange Icardi with Lorenzo Insigne and he’s right,” De Laurentiis said, as quoted by Corriere dello Sport.

“?Icardi may well always want to join Juventus, but I prefer Lorenzo to him too, because he’s the one we need, while we already have Arkadiusz Milik and Dries Mertens upfront.”


He then commented on the ongoing speculation linking James Rodriguez with a move to the club, insisting the Colombian is keen on moving to ?Serie A.

“Carlo likes it very much and we are waiting for a more reasonable request. The rock is represented by Real Madrid, which has high claims in our opinion. But James wants Naples.”

?Napoli’s interest in Icardi is no surprise given his goalscoring record for Inter. The Argentine has netted 134 times for the Nerazzurri, becoming one of the most feared strikers in European football.

Mauro Icardi

But his relationship with the club has soured following comments he made in 2016 autobiography – and he has since been stripped of the club’s captaincy.

Atletico Madrid may reinvigorate their interest once Antoine Griezmann finally completes his long-awaited move to Barcelona – though they have just forked out a whopping £113m to sign Benfica wonderkid Joao Felix.


Vittorio Pozzo: Il Vecchio Maestro’s All-Time Best XI

Vittorio Pozzo is number 27 in 90min’s Top 50 Great Managers of All Time series. Follow the rest of the series over the course of the next six weeks. You can find Jack Gallagher’s Il Vecchio Maestro’s career overview ?here.

Vittorio Pozzo is the only manager to ever win the World Cup on two separate occasions. Impressive, eh? 

What’s even more impressive is the fact that he did so while tactically reinventing Italy football. Dropping two of the five forwards in the Cambridge Pyramid formation back into the midfield, Pozzo is the first man to actively set-up his team to defend and win at all costs; something that basically every Italian team has done since. 

Below are the best players he did it with. 

Goalkeeper & Defenders

Gianpiero Combi (Goalkeeper): Before there was Dino Zoff, before there was Gianluigi Buffon, there was Gianpiero Combi; a Juventus stalwart who spent 13-years in Turin and was a key component in Italy’s 1934 World Cup winning side. Which is a bit crazy, considering he was only six inches taller than Prince (5 foot 8). 

Pietro Rava (Full Back): Another Juventus legend, Rava was crucial to Italy’s 1938 World Cup win, making the all-star team for his exceptional performances at full back. 

Eraldo Monzeglio (Full Back): One of the very few players to win both the 1934 and 1938 World Cup, it was at the former that Monzeglio performed at his best, making the all-star team. Away from the national team, the full-back enjoyed a fruitful spell with Bologna, winning the Serie A in 1929. Imagine Bologna winning the Scudetto now? That’s right, you can’t.

Attilio Ferraris (Right Halfback): An AS Roma hall of famer (that’s a thing, apparently), Ferraris made the 1934 all-star team and, you guessed it, won the World Cup. He also played for Lazio, but don’t tell Roma fans that. 

Luis Monti (Centre Back): The only player to appear in two FIFA World Cup finals with two different nations. He lost the 1930 World Cup final as part of the Argentina team that were beaten 4-2 by hosts Uruguay, and then won the 1934 World Cup with Italy. 

Ugo Locatelli (Left Halfback): 1938 World Cup winner. 1938 World Cup all-star team maker. Two-time Serie A winner. Olympic gold medallist. Ugo Locatelli must’ve been pretty good at football. 

Inside Forwards:

Giuseppe Meazza (Right Inside Forward): So good they named the most famous stadium in the world after him, Giuseppe Meazza is regarded by many to be the greatest Italian footballer of all time. The heartbeat of two World Cup-winning Italy sides, Vittorio Pozzo leaned on Meazza in the big moments, and he always delivered.

Giovanni Ferrari (Left Inside Forward): So fast they named the most famous car company in the world after him…ok that’s not true, but apparently Ferrari was a great player. He starred in both of Italy’s World Cup triumphs under Pozzo, and in Juve’s historic five-Scudetti run in the 1930s. Oh, and what a name. 


Raimundo Orsi (Right Winger): Everybody loves Raimundo, especially Juventus fans, as he helped their team win five consecutive Serie A titles. 

Silvio Piola (Striker): So good they named two stadiums after him! It was at Lazio were Piola really made his mark however; he is still the club’s all-time record goalscorer. He also scored 30 goals in 34 appearances for Italy. So, yeah, good player. 

Gino Colaussi (Left Winger): A Triestina legend, and a big game player. Colaussi was instrumental in Italy’s 1938 World Cup triumph, scoring in the quarter-final, semi-final, and two in the final itself. Oh, he also has the same first name as Gino D’Acampo.

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Number 43: Kenny Dalglish: The King of Anfield’s All-Time Best XI

Number 42: Massimiliano Allegri: The Six-Time Serie A Winner’s All-Time Best XI

Number 41: Sir Bobby Robson: The Legendary Fighter’s All-Time Best XI

Number 40: Luis Aragones: Spain’s Most Important Manager’s All-Time Best XI

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Number 37: Franz Beckenbauer: Der Kaiser’s All-Time Best XI

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Number 34: Zinedine Zidane: The French Magician’s All-Time Best XI

Number 33: Luiz Felipe Scolari: Picking Big Phil’s All-Time Best XI

Number 32: Jupp Heynckes: The German Master Tactician’s All-Time Best XI

Number 31: Vicente del Bosque: The Moustachioed Mister’s All-Time Best XI

Number 30: Arsene Wenger: The Legendary Arsenal Manager’s All-Time Best XI

Number 29: Udo Lattek: The Inspirational Leader’s All-Time Best XI

Number 28: ?Jock Stein: Big Jock’s All-Time Best XI


Vittorio Pozzo: Metodo, Mussolini, Meazza & the Difficult Memory of a Two-Time World Cup Winner

Vittorio Pozzo is number 27 in 90min’s Top 50 Great Managers of All Time series. Follow the rest of the series over the course of the next six weeks.

‘?Why is Vittorio Pozzo regarded as one of the greatest managers of all time?’

Is a question with a pretty straightforward answer: 

Vittorio Pozzo is one of the greatest managers of all time because he is the only manager in history to win two FIFA World Cups.

It’s really that simple. 

These are the achievements that wholly define Pozzo. 

They are why he’s remembered. 

They are why he’s important. 

They are why he is one of the greatest managers of all time.

Vittorio Pozzo

But how these achievements were, well, achieved, is much less straightforward. For while Vittorio Pozzo, the man, the manager, the anglophile, can be summarised with the sentence: 

‘Vittorio Pozzo is one of the greatest managers of all time because he is the only manager in history to win two FIFA World Cups.’

The Turin native is also a man, manager, anglophile with a very complicated story; a story fraught with supposed corruption, fascism, propaganda, Benito Mussolini, Giuseppe Meazza, and genuine tactical genius. 

‘Wait…what? Benito Mussolini?’

Yeah, that guy, but before we touch on all those words that just caught your eye – fascism, Mussolini, corruption (in calcio that’s unheard of…) – Pozzo deserves some actual praise for being a tactical innovator and winning all of those World Cups.

The ‘genuine tactical genius’ part of Pozzo’s story can’t be underestimated; he earned the nickname lI Vecchio Maestro (the old master) for a very good reason.

‘Being old?’

Obviously, but he was also a master – we’re praising him at the moment, please keep up.

Il Vecchio Maestro’s tactical mastery was conceived during one of his many, many, many trips to England during the 1920s (he was an unabashed anglophile). There he would find flaws in the widely used Cambridge Pyramid formation while watching Charlie Roberts and co. playing for Manchester United. 

?Career Honours
?1934 & 1938 FIFA World Cup
?1936 Olympic Gold Medal
?1927-30 & 1933-35 Central European International Cup

The key flaw he found was how gung-ho, zero f*cks given, attacking the Cambridge Pyramid was, with teams playing five forwards from the first minute to the last.


I know, right? That’s at least two too many.

Amazingly, Pozzo was the first to see the clear as day, couldn’t be more blatantly obvious, problems with going FIFA 19-style all out attack in every second of every game, and decided to drag two of the five forwards into deeper roles in midfield where they could provide more defensive cover, but also take up roles as creative entities in the side.

The 2-3-2-3 formation was born…or ‘Il Metodo’, which is a much, much cooler name.

Il Metodo would be the tactical innovation that would unlock the generational talents of Giuseppe Meazza, make Italy defensively impenetrable, win the country two consecutive FIFA World Cups, and – perhaps most importantly – change the Italian tactical outlook on calcio.

The 1934 and 1938 World Cup winner didn’t invent what we now know as catenaccio, that was Helenio Herrera’s brainchild (you’ll read about him later in this series, don’t worry), but he was the first manager on the peninsula to set up a team to defend and win at all costs. 

This defensive mindset would come to define calcio from the 1930s to the present day. 

It’s the mindset that led to Italy winning four World Cups. 

It’s the mindset that bred the greatest defenders of all time – Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini, Fabio Cannavaro, Alessandro Nesta, Gaetano Scirea etc.

In short: Pozzo defined Italian football.

So yes, all of the above suggests Vittorio Pozzo may very well be the greatest Italian manager of all time, but for the reasons you are about to read, he is also one that many would prefer to forget. 

‘Ohhhhh, this is the bit about politics.’ 

Yes, yes it is.  

12th June 1938. FIFA World Cup. Italy vs. France. The hosts vs. the holders. A game that would be remembered forever. Just not for the right reasons. 

Vittorio Pozzo

Rather than a brilliant Meazza goal, or a brilliant performance in goal from Aldo Olivieri, it is an incident during the Italian national anthem that makes this game one of the most memorable in World Cup history. 

During the singing of the Italian national anthem, Gli Azzurri lined up on the pitch and performed the Roman fascist salute; something that was rightly greeted with a chorus of boos from the French crowd – a chorus so loud that it forced the Italian national team to gingerly lower their arms. After witnessing his team succumb to the crowd pressure, Pozzo marched out onto the field and ordered his team to put their arms up once again. 

“Our players don’t even dream to make some politics, but the fascist salute is the official flag of the moment, it’s a sort of ceremony and they must show allegiance.” 

Vittorio Pozzo

It was an act of what one can only assume to be loyalty to Benito Mussolini and the rise of fascism in Europe, and an act which explicitly marred the memory of one of the greatest managers of all time. 

Sadly, this incident wasn’t a singular purveyance of fascism and Mussolini in the story of Vittorio Pozzo. 

Sadly, all of Pozzo’s achievements in football are blotted by Italian fascism. 

The 1934 World Cup, held in Italy, is perceived to have been won under the pretence of fascist propaganda and assumed to have been won with a little political help from Benito Mussolini. 

Then the 1938 World Cup was won with a huge amount of the top nations abstaining from the tournament due ripples of the political upheaval fascism was causing in Europe on the eve of World War II. 

?Teams Managed
?AC Milan

‘This is all a bit heavy.’

Yeah, it really is, and it complicates the memory of Vittorio Pozzo.

There’s no doubting that, tactically, Pozzo is one of the most significant managers of all time.

That’s a fact. 

There’s no doubting that Pozzo is the only manager to win two FIFA World Cups.

That’s a fact. 

How these were won though, is a sticking point. Without the baggage of fascism and corruption, one could argue that Vittorio Pozzo would be regarded as the undisputed greatest manager of all time. But that baggage is there. It permeates every memory of Vittorio Pozzo, and it mars one of the most astonishing managerial careers in history. 

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Number 46: Sven-Goran Eriksson: The Scudetto Winning Shagger Who Never Solved the Lampard-Gerrard Conundrum

Number 45: Sir Alf Ramsey: The Man Behind the ‘Wingless Wonders’ & England’s Sole World Cup Triumph

Number 44: Antonio Conte: An Astute Tactician Whose Perfectionist Philosophy Reinvented the 3-5-2 Wheel

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Number 40: Luis Aragones: Spain’s Most Important Manager, the Atleti Rock and the Modern Father of Tiki-Taka

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Number 37: Franz Beckenbauer: The German Giant Whose Playing Career Overshadowed His Managerial Genius

Number 36: Viktor Maslov: Soviet Pioneer of the 4-4-2 & the Innovator of Pressing

Number 35: Rafa Benitez: The Conquerer of La Liga Who Masterminded That Comeback in Istanbul

Number 34: Zinedine Zidane: Cataloguing the Frenchman’s Transition From Midfield Magician to Managerial Maestro

Number 33: Luiz Felipe Scolari: How the Enigmatic ‘Big Phil’ Succeeded as Much as He Failed on the Big Stage

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Romelu Lukaku Informs Ole Gunnar Solskjaer of Desire to Leave Man Utd

Exclusive – Romelu Lukaku has informed Manchester United that he wants to leave, 90min has learned, despite Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s insistence that the club are under no pressure to sell.

Lukaku arrived for £75m from Everton in the summer of 2017, and despite solidifying his status as first choice centre forward under Jose Mourinho, the Belgian is now behind Marcus Rashford in the pecking order. Solskjaer has made that clear in the past, and opted to use the England man through the middle for most of his time in charge last season.


Solskjaer told Lukaku that he will get chances in the team despite his squad status before United travelled to Australia for the first leg of their pre-season tour. But with strong interest from Inter, Lukaku feels he has better options elsewhere and is looking to depart.

A move to Italy would not only fulfil a personal ambition for Lukaku, but it would also see him link up with Antonio Conte – the coach he almost signed for at Chelsea two years ago before an intervention from United saw him move to Manchester instead. Conte has made Lukaku one of his primary targets in his Nerazzurri rebuild, having already signed six players.

Inter, though, are encountering problems in landing Lukaku. United are seeking a complete cash deal and asking for around £70m, but the Serie A outfit are struggling to meet their demands. Instead, Inter have so far offered a loan deal and players – such as Mauro Icardi – in exchange.

There are concerns over Icardi joining United because of the influence of his polarising wife/agent Wanda Nara, who has a reputation for being outspoken, but United are mainly holding out for as strong a cash deal as they’re able to get. United are going through a restructuring job of their own, though have only signed two players this summer to date.

Departures are likely too, and while speculation remains over the futures of first team players Paul Pogba and Victor Lindelof, and United are actively trying to sell the likes of Matteo Darmian and Marcos Rojo, Solskjaer confirmed on Wednesday that the club currently have no offers for any of their players.

And even if they do come in, Solskjaer has remained defiant that United ?don’t have to sell unless the deal is right: “As far as I’m aware there have been no bids for any players. We are Man United and we don’t have to sell. It’s business as usual.”

Inter are due to face United in Singapore on July 20, though which team Lukaku is representing on the day remains to be seen. Inter officials are due in the UK this week to discuss the deal further.