Napoli to replace Luciano Spalletti with Rafa Benitez?! Chaos at the new Serie A champions
The tension in Trentino was immediately obvious. Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis was there to discuss this summer's pre-season training camp in Dimaro-Folgarida - but there was no sign of manager Luciano Spalletti. Why?
"We'll talk about football later," De Laurentiis told bemused reporters. "Today we talk about Trentino and nothing else. Otherwise, I'll get up and leave."
De Laurentiis didn't just want to avoid speaking about the coach, though, he barely wanted to say Spalletti's name. Only once did it cross his lips during an hour-long press conference - a pretty remarkable state of affairs, given the Tuscan has just delivered Napoli's first Scudetto since 1990.
The pair dined together last week. It was "a dinner of friendship and thanks", De Laurentiis said. He also revealed that he was planning a special post-match title presentation celebration for Spalletti and his players after the home game against Sampdoria on June 4.
Tellingly, though, the Partenopei supremo steadfastly refused to be drawn on whether the manager would still be at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona next season.
He subsequently stated that the doesn't want to "clip the coach's wings" but not even Spalletti knows what that means.
When pressed on his future ahead of Sunday's game against Inter, he would only say that the decision has already been taken.
"The club will say [what's going to happen], not me," Spalletti told reporters in his pre-match press conference. "We discussed it at dinner. I am not the one who has to say it. We worked everything out in that dinner we had a week ago. For what I want to do, I need boots - not wings. I defined and clarified everything that evening. If you want to keep guessing - cold, warm or hot - you can, but it’s all been defined."
So, what the hell is going on? Why on earth is Spalletti's future in doubt less than three weeks after essentially achieving immortality in the eyes of Napoli's success-starved supporters? And is there now a very real danger of a title-winning team being torn apart by transfers?