De Laurentiis dismisses Ibrahimovic rumours as Napoli 'start from scratch' under Gattuso

Sacha Pisani

Naples, December 16: Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis appeared to rule out the signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, insisting the club must "start from scratch" after Gennaro Gattuso replaced Carlo Ancelotti.

Ibrahimovic is a free agent after leaving MLS side LA Galaxy and the veteran striker has been linked with a return to Serie A via Napoli, former club Milan and Serie C outfit Monza.

Touted to re-join Milan, the arrival of ex-Rossoneri boss Gattuso in Naples has led to speculation Ibrahimovic could move to Napoli instead.

It comes after Napoli reportedly offered Ibrahimovic an 18-month contract before head coach Ancelotti was sacked following the club's Champions League victory on Tuesday.

Asked about Ibrahimovic, De Laurentiis told reporters: "Zlatan is a great person with a strong character. We thought about Ibrahimovic when Ancelotti was in charge, as he would've 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.

"We must focus first and foremost on what we have in-house and then to reinforce the midfield. It's a pity all the work we had done for Ancelotti now has to be scrapped and we start again working for Gattuso's ideas. We start from scratch, but do not lack enthusiasm."

Gattuso's first match in charge did not go according to plan - Napoli stunned 2-1 by visiting Parma after conceding a 93rd-minute goal on Saturday.

The result left Napoli languishing in eighth in Serie A, 11 points outside the top four amid an eight-match winless streak in the league.

"I am totally in sync with Gattuso, who is a great worker," De Laurentiis said. "He did well at Milan and is the right profile for us, as was Carlo, who remains an extraordinary person.

"Now we need a great deal of patience, nerves of steel and cool heads. I tell that above all to the fans. They want to win at all costs, but football has changed and it has become far more complex."

On Ancelotti, De Laurentiis added: "I can only wish Ancelotti all the best. He is an extraordinary person and a great friend. Once we reach the end of the season, I'll look at everything and understand what went wrong or who was wrong. We will draw a definitive line."

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