23 July 2014 20:53
Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has vowed the club will make the right additions in order to fight for the Serie A title.
Rafael Benitez was named head coach at Stadio San Paolo ahead of the 2013-14 campaign and led the team to a third-placed finish in his debut season.
De Laurentiis believes that Napoli would have been able to finish ahead of Roma – who were runners-up to Juventus – if the team had not suffered injuries to key players.
The 65-year-old insisted that, with a fully fit squad and some shrewd transfer business, Napoli will compete for top spot.
“I want to win the Scudetto this season, I’ll fight for it,” he said at a question and answer session with Napoli supporters.
“I believe we are mature enough to fight until the end for the Scudetto. Last year we had several injuries: [Juan] Zuniga, [Giandomenico] Mesto, [Marik] Hamsik, [Christian] Maggio and also the second keeper [Rafael] – fortunately [Pepe] Reina didn’t get injured.
“We had a new coach, but we still finished third and our Champions League campaign ended with honour. If we had all the players available, perhaps Roma wouldn’t have finished second.
“This year I believe, like you and more than you. I hope the new signings can gel quickly in the team and I hope we can make good signings for the present and for the future.”
Meanwhile, speaking at the same fans’ forum, Benitez remained coy over his admiration for Barcelona utility man Javier Mascherano.
The Argentina international signed a new long-term contract at Camp Nou last month amid speculation over his future.
Napoli were among the sides who had been linked with a move for the 30-year-old and Benitez is a confirmed admirer, having worked with the player during his time as Liverpool boss.
However, when quizzed by one fan on whether he would want the South American in his squad, Benitez turned the tables with a tongue-in-cheek comparison to a man considering leaving his wife.
Inviting the supporter up on stage, Benitez asked him: “Are you in love with your wife? Yes. Would you like to change it?
“Claudia Schiffer for example? Maybe, yes, but if you’re in love with your wife you do not want to let go with another.”