Surprising turnaround: Spalletti becomes Mancini’s successor in Italy

Surprising turnaround: Spalletti becomes Mancini's successor in Italy

“I need a break because I’m pretty tired,” said Luciano Spalletti at the end of May, shortly after winning the Serie A championship convincingly with Napoli. In addition, the 64-year-old had made it clear: “I don’t know if you can call it a sabbatical, but it will be a year without work. I will not coach Napoli or any other team.”

And his club and above all the Neapolitan patron Aurelio de Laurentiis granted the wish until 2024 despite the contract. “Spalletti is a free man!” the club owner told Rai 3. “If someone comes to you and says that they have done everything they could and that an era in their life is over…” then, according to the club’s owner, you have to accept it. “He told me that he would rather take a sabbatical. Then what do you do? Are you against it? No. He gave me a lot, I thank him.”

2.65 million euros release clause

Now, just a little over two months later, came the big turnaround. As the Italian Football Association officially announced on Friday evening, that Spalletti was appointed the new national coach after the Roberto Mancini bang (sudden resignation as coach of the Squadra Azzurra despite the recent increase in power). Contract until the 2026 World Cup.

According to Italian media reports, Spalletti was already the clear favorite for the successor from the time of Mancini’s resignation – including an unsurprising point of contention with the apparently snubbed Neapolitans.

There are said to have been intensive negotiations between Napoli and the FIGC (Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio) recently. The southern Italians apparently demanded a transfer fee of 2.65 million euros for the master maker. This was contractually stipulated if Spalletti should take up a new coaching job at a club in the coming 2023/2024 season.

“His enthusiasm and expertise will matter”

It has not yet been finally clarified how this will be dealt with. According to reports, Spalletti could also have to pay the amount himself. Meanwhile, the Italian federation claims that this clause only applies if the coach would switch to a (rival) club and not to a national association during his announced sabbatical.

“The national team needed a great coach and I’m very happy that Luciano Spalletti has now taken over the leadership of the Azzurri,” said head of the association Gabriele Gravina. “His enthusiasm and expertise will be fundamental to the challenges that await Italy in the coming months.”

His first tasks are imminent: at the beginning of September there will be the important tasks in the European Championship qualifier in North Macedonia (Saturday, September 9th, 8.45 p.m.) and against Ukraine (Tuesday, September 12th, 8.45 p.m.). The defending champions are currently third in Group C behind leaders England and Ukraine.

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