Contract squabble could force hometown hero Insigne out of Napoli

Monday April 10th, 2017

Lazio began the weekend as the most likely challenger to Roma and Napoli for a top-three spot in Serie A, and last week Simone Inzaghi’s side beat Roma to reach the Coppa Italia final. That form did not continue into Sunday’s home game against Napoli, who won 3-0 in a performance inspired by Lorenzo Insigne. He scored two goals and made a goal-line clearance in the important victory.

“Tonight was an important stepping stone, now we go to the end of the campaign and try to get as many points as possible,” said Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri, who is looking to chase down Roma, four points ahead. “I hope all these lads will remain with us and the others can really come in properly, because we couldn’t use [Arkadiusz] Milik for long periods due to injury. When he gets back to full fitness, he can do great things here.”

More pressing, though, is the future of Insigne, whose latest contract talks have been running since before the start of the season. Gazzetta dello Sport reported Monday that no agreement is close, with the main obstacle being the player’s request for a 50% image rights clause. Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis is refusing to budge, which will alert interested clubs from the Premier League.

Insigne gave a candid interview to TV station RAI last month about the hold-up in the talks.

“From the summer I’ve taken some steps back from what I was asking earlier financially,” he said. “I want to play for my city. There were other clubs willing to offer me more even when I was still in the youth team. I had some offers then but didn’t feel the need to chase money. My dream was to play for Napoli ... If this dream ends one day it won’t be my fault.”

Last week, Gonzalo Higuain seemed to blame De Laurentiis for his departure from Napoli to Juventus; it looks like Insigne will be next to go, although the local boy would surely draw the line at moving to Juventus … right?

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