Spalletti: ‘I’m glad Raspadori didn’t leave Italy, Napoli offered Mertens a contract’

Luciano Spalletti reacted to the scepticism surrounding Napoli ahead of the upcoming season and he reflected on Dries Mertens’ departure last month.

The Partenopei have had an interesting summer transfer window, saying goodbye to regulars like Kalidou Koulibaly, Lorenzo Insigne and Mertens. To replace them, Napoli brought in young options like Kim Min-Jae, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Leo Ostigard and Mathias Olivera. The club also look likely to pick up another striker before the month ends.

Speaking to Corriere della Sera, Spalletti first discussed his relationship with Napoli and how he feels living in the Campania capital.

“I don’t want to sound strange, but it is nature that unites me and Naples. The smells, the tastes also. Here, these are sensations that are also hard to explain. Emotions and feelings, the city is winning me over like this, it brings me back to my origins. 

“I would like it if it became better at interpreting us, the passion for football is visceral, unique. But there are moments and moments, and it’s not that if you have a season at a high level, breaking even the climate of depression that I found when I arrived, then if you don’t win the Scudetto you have done nothing, in fact for some you have failed. 

“I was the first to cultivate the ambition to win, I raised the bar in my locker room to raise the self-esteem of the players. We managed to do great things, with almost half the team with expiring contracts.”

He reflected on Mertens’ departure from the club last month.

“Let’s be clear, It wasn’t me, it wasn’t the club that didn’t want him with us. Mertens could have given us a big hand. 

“But the club made him an offer and he didn’t accept. I keep myself out of these dynamics, and that’s right.”

The Italian coach commented on his relationship with president Aurelio De Laurentiis.

“We have a direct, frontal relationship. And therefore true. To meet each other sometimes character compromises are necessary, sometimes I’ll plan, other times he does. We are two strong people.”

The Napoli coach looked ahead to the upcoming campaign and the top contenders.

“Around us I sense skepticism, I’m sorry. Because we are trying hard to be ready. Thanks to a market that, within certain boundaries, is functional to our needs. Dybala has not arrived, I hear here and there. 

“The attempt was made by my team, then you have to stop when there are fences. This should not make us feel inferior. All the top teams, and besides the Milanese and Juventus, Roma and Fiorentina have also joined, have strengthened significantly. 

“We go our way knowing that this will be an unusual and therefore strange season for everyone. Matches are played on the field not off it. Let’s see, meanwhile the market is still long.”

Finally, Spalletti discussed the importance of young players in Serie A.

“They must be able to grow, find clubs that are able to foster maturity. Then, of course, money, that can be a variable. I respect their choices, of course. Experiences abroad always enrich. 

“But when I think of Raspadori, I’m glad he decided not to leave Italy instead. Here at home we grow up…. And this is not an invitation, but a consideration that prescinds from the market.”

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