SportsDe Laurentiis, against the shadow of Maradona

De Laurentiis, against the shadow of Maradona



They may have seen masterpieces of Italian neorealism such as Bitter Rice, or Fellini films like The Strada or The Nights of Cabiria. Also that they will enjoy with Conan the barbarian, King kong or even with Dune by David Lynch. If so, you know very well who the legendary producer Dino de Laurentiis is, a monster that changed cinema and one of the most universal Italians. If titles like Christmas in Rio or Carlo Verdone’s films don’t make them funny, it’s because his nephew, Aurelio de Laurentiis (ADL), got rich making a handful of rather forgettable productions. The important thing, however, is that he managed to match the family legend with a great feat in football.

In the summer of 2004, ADL, a short man with a devilish character, was having breakfast on his terrace in Capri when he read in Il mattino that Napoli was bankrupt and was going to be auctioned. The historic club, which had won two scudetti and a UEFA led by Maradona a little over a decade ago, it was nothing more than an old concrete stadium in the Fuorigrotta neighborhood, a melancholic crowd and a handful of promissory notes. De Laurentiis had no idea of ​​football, he was interested in basketball. But he bought it, invested 120 million and in three years he raised it to Series A. He wanted to implement a model of contracts like the ones he made his actors sign, and although they sent him for a ride, he always kept finances at bay. The problem is that, as it happened in the family, he had to compete with the gigantic legend of Maradona in the stadium (which, moreover, today bears his name). “I have the accounts in order and it is a record team. But having been there, it seems that I have not done anything, “he complained to this reporter four years ago in the same office occupied by his uncle and Carlo Ponti.

De Laurentiis, who lives in a fabulous Rome apartment at the top of the Quirinal, has done everything at the club. And almost always well. He signed Benítez and brought in figures like Higuaín, Cavani or Lavezzi. Then he understood that the best football at that time passed through Maurizio Sarri, a rude and foul-mouthed Tuscan who turned the team into a swarm of talented little guys who revolutionized Serie A and were on the verge of winning the scudetto. This year, after several failed attempts, a mutiny with Ancellotti and impersonations with the good old Gattuso last year, he has found harmony with Spalletti again. The team has won the six games it has played (this Sunday 2-0 at Cagliari), leads Serie A and, above all, takes 10 points from Juventus. And that, in Naples is almost more important than the first.

De Laurentiis played poker in the market this summer, bluffed himself and said he didn’t have a lira. But the old gambler did not sell a single player and brought Politano from Inter for 18 million. The best thing is that he hired Luciano Spalletti, an ambitious coach who has returned the hunger to the team. Hardened in Serie A, he coached Inter, Sampdoria and Roma twice. In the capital he became famous for his offensive game and, above all, for being the coach who finally put Totti on the bench. Spalletti always starts very strong, as has happened with Napoli. But then he usually has problems with players, with other coaches or with the press … He has a bad character. But for now, he has managed to get the team to display a choral game in which almost the entire squad has participated and 10 players have scored all the team’s goals.

The team has the best defense: Koulibaly is a titan. It is also the one that maintains the greatest possession and the one that rotates the players the most (they have stepped on the pitch 21). Osimhen, the Nigerian player for whom the team paid 50 million plus bonuses last summer to Lille, is unleashed (he scored again yesterday). And for now Spalletti manages the ego and the turbulence well with Lorenzo Insigne, the 10th of the team (although the shirt with Maradona’s 10 is removed), who completes the attack with Zielinski and Politano. The technician, although it is early, admits that he wants the scudetto. It remains to be seen if he will silently resist the sarcasm of his president, who only tolerates certain bad jokes in his films.

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