Coach Luciano Spalletti of Napoli said on Monday that he has requested a sabbatical from the game and will not be in charge of the defending Serie A winners in 2023/24.
After leading the team to their first Serie A championship in 33 years this season, 64-year-old Spalletti has been in command of Napoli since July 2021. He still has one more year left on his contract. He will, though, retire this summer.
The plan was confirmed by Spalletti after Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis stated on Sunday night that the coach had requested a break and that he would not be hindered.
“Out of respect for the club I told De Laurentiis straightaway that I needed to take a year off,” Italian news agency Ansa quoted 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.
Under Spalletti, Napoli also advanced to the quarterfinals of the Champions League but fell to AC Milan 2-1 on the season.
When asked about Spalletti’s impending departure over the weekend, De Laurentiis stated: “He is a free man. After 50 years in cinema [as producer], and so many exclusives with directors, actors, when someone comes to you and says: ‘After all, I’ve done my best, a cycle of my life has ended, I still have a contract with you, but I’d rather have a sabbatical year.’ What are you going to do, are you going to oppose it?
“You have to be generous in life, I never expect anything in return. He gave us, I thank him, now it’s right that he continues to do what he loves to do.”
After Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Bologna, Spalletti, who recently got a tattoo to honor Napoli’s third league championship, said: “I have so many things within, because to produce a Scudetto-winning campaign like we did, you need the involvement of every component. The kindness and love of the Naples residents undoubtedly made the difference.
The tattoo, according to Spalletti, “Naples was obviously under my skin and I have brought out what I already had inside me after these two years. This city, this group, these people, they all deserve the happiness we are experiencing.”
On June 4, at home against Sampdoria, Spalletti’s final game in command will take place.
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