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Is Aurelio De Laurentiis the Most INTERESTING Owner In Italian Football?

4 minute read Published March 26, 2024

There certainly isn’t a shortage of characters in Italian football. For a long time, Silvio Berlusconi was the character, the good and the bad. The former Italian prime minister owned both Milan and Monza and was famous for his, well, let’s call it frivolous, lifestyle. After he passed away in 2023, the torch was passed, arguably, to Aurelio De Laurentiis (yes, it’s supposed to be two i’s).

De Laurentiis is the owner of Napoli SSC. He bought the club in 2004, when they were declared bankrupt. A phoenix club arose in the Italian third division, Serie C. Then 55 years old, De Laurentiis was an acclaimed film producer and a huge Napoli fan. He wanted to bring the club back to its former glory. But, they’d fallen very far from the days of Maradona.

For 19 years he worked to make the club better. After finishing third in his first season, they were promoted by winning Serie C in the 2005/2006 season. The following season they got second in Serie B and were promoted back to the top tier. And they’ve stayed there. They were often part of the top, they got second place three times, but it wasn’t until last season that they finally won the Scudetto.

De Larentiis, however, is not an uncontroversial person. He’s very outspoken and, often to a fault, very stubborn. The stubbornness though fits well with Napoli as the club is sometimes called “I Ciucciarelli” - the little donkeys.

Just last week, he was in hot water, yet again. Before being knocked out of the Champions League by Barcelona, the Napoli owner interrupted a Sky Sports interview with his team's winger, Matteo Politano. He allegedly physically pushed both the journalist and cameraman and took Politano away. He’s now under investigation.

It’s not the first time the controversial owner has had fallings out though…

Fallings out

He’s had fallings out with both players and coaches. For example, when Gonzalo Higuain chose to move to Juventus he was livid. After the move Higuain told the media that he’d “moved to a new family”. In response to his statements, De Laurentiis told the media that the player had disrespected the club. He added that his moving cost them Champions League qualification in the following season. 

De Laurentiis was also very vocal when former coach Maurizio Sarri moved to Chelsea. He mocked him for being a communist and saying that no-one knows how he wants to play because he’s usually fired after six games.

For a Communist to base his profession on the evils of money brought him to suffer from a syndrome of dissatisfaction.

And he doesn’t just single out specific people. At one point he announced that he wouldn’t be buying players from Africa anymore. Since African players go to play for their countries at AFCON, clubs will for sure lose them for a few games every other year. 

Another time, after losing to PSG in the Champions League, he accused the Qatar backed club of being creative with their bookkeeping.

If their budget is in red, they turn it green as if they’re magicians. For me, football isn’t a way to make other investments, like Qatar is doing.


The club is now an established top club in the top tier and it runs profitably too. Despite this, the way he runs it has not been without its detractors, even from Napoli fans.

He’s been accused of not running the club to win. As long as they make it to the Champions League, he’s happy. Whenever he’s had a valuable asset on the team, he’s sold. Higuain and Jorginho were huge pieces of the team, but when the right offer came in, he sold them. 

There also haven’t been any major player purchases. Napoli are good at bringing in slightly under the radar players, at a good price. But perhaps what’s needed to take a team from challenging for the title to winning the title (on a little more consistent basis), are great players at, yes, a high price. Juventus, Milan and Inter sure do this.

This season

This season, to say the team has underperformed would be an understatement. Fresh off the heels of a title winning season, they’re currently in seventh in the league. They’ve been knocked out of the Champions League. They lost to Frosninone in the round of sixteen in the Coppa Italia.

After losing Luciano Spaletti in the summer, De Laurentiis has already fired two and hired three managers. When firing the first manager, Rudi Garcia, in his very straight forward and controversial way, he said:

I’m having a bad time with him. I am an entrepreneur, I have a duty to take an interest in my business. [...] When you take a coach who no longer knows Italian football, maybe he has difficulties.

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