Napoli chief dismisses Zlatan Ibrahimovic approach amid AC Milan link

Napoli owner Aurelio de Laurentiis has dismissed the prospect of a mid-season deal for Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swede is expected to be available on a free transfer after his contract expires with LA Galaxy this month and he has been widely fancied to return to the Serie A before stepping down from the game.

AC Milan and Napoli have been identified as the prime candidates to land his signature but Laurentiis has now ruled out a move for the former Manchester United star. Speaking at Milan’s 120th anniversary celebrations, the Napoli chief said that Ibrahimovic would have suited the club with Carlo Ancelotti at the helm but the change in manager has meant that there are different priorities for the New Year.

Zlatan is a great person with a strong character. We thought about Ibrahimovic when Ancelotti was in charge, as he would have taken a certain role. Now before thinking about him, I have other priorities, as this is a team that must play in a different system with a very high line and a defence that cannot allow what it allowed against Parma [in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat],” he told.

Napoli came on the cusp of lifting the Serie A title during the 2017/18 season under Maurizio Sarri but things have since gone downhill for the club. Under Carlo Ancelotti, the Naples outfit finished 11 points off Juventus at the top of the table last season but the gap was largely reduced during the final month where the Bianconeri dropped off after winning the title.

In the current campaign, they have already dismissed Ancelotti with the club 17 points off the top of the table and it will be interesting to see whether there are reinforcements when the transfer window reopens at the beginning of the year. Napoli have a home game against Parma this weekend where Gennaro Gattuso will make his managerial debut with the club.