Napoli coach Luciano Spalletti to step aside after title triumph

Luciano Spalletti

Luciano Spalletti

Coach Luciano Spalletti of Napoli said on Monday that he has requested a vacation from the game and will not be in charge of the defending Serie A winners in 2017. Spalletti just guided Napoli to the first Serie A championship since 1990, but there have been questions over whether he would continue.

After Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis announced on Sunday night that the coach had requested a break and would not face any obstacles, Spalletti confirmed the plan. “Out of respect for the club I told De Laurentiis straightaway that I needed to take a year off,” Italian news agency Ansa quoted Luciano Spalletti as saying on Monday.

“I’m a bit tired and want to spend time with my daughter Matilde,” he added on the sidelines of a sports business conference. Italian media speculated that former Spain national team coach Luis Enrique was the likely replacement for Spalletti. It was not clear what Spalletti, who is 64, would do after his break.

Napoli have run away with the Serie A title this season, upstaging their rivals from the wealthier north to win the league for the first time since the Diego Maradona era. “Spalletti has been a really great coach, he’s a free man, he’s given a lot, I thank him and now it’s right that he does what he wants to,” De Laurentiis told a talk show on Rai TV on Sunday night.

Spalletti, who took charge of Napoli in 2021, had broken down in tears when Napoli clinched the title this month, paying tribute to his family and his brother who passed away four years ago.

He has coached a number of Italian clubs including AS Roma and Inter Milan, and spent five years with Russian club Zenit St Petersburg.

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