Naples, November 17: Napoli have warned Eljif Elmas he could be punished for breaching a club media blackout after giving an interview while on international duty.
Twenty-year-old midfielder Elmas could face a costly rap after being quoted by various outlets during his time away with Macedonia, despite telling reporters Napoli could still vie for the Serie A title.
The Naples club appear to be in disarray after first-team players rebelled en masse and quit a training retreat earlier this month.
That getaway to nearby Castel Volturno was ordered by club president Aurelio De Laurentiis, following a run of disappointing results, but it was dramatically cut short after a Champions League match against Salzburg.
Napoli hinted at taking legal action against their own squad, saying on November 6 the club would "do everything in its power to protect its economic interests, assets, image rights and disciplinary interests", and ruling there would be no media communication "for the foreseeable future".
A goalless draw at home to Genoa followed for Carlo Ancelotti's team, leaving Napoli, who finished runners-up to Juventus last season, sitting seventh in Serie A.
In the latest twist, a statement attributed to head of communications Nicola Lombardo was posted by Napoli on Twitter, saying: "SSC Napoli can confirm that Eljif Elmas spoke to the press without the club's authorisation during the current media blackout.
"SSC Napoli therefore reserves the right to take action against the player."
SSC Napoli can confirm that Eljif Elmas spoke to the press without the club's authorisation during the current media blackout. SSC Napoli therefore reserves the right to take action against the player. Nicola Lombardo, Head of Communications— Official SSC Napoli (@sscnapoli) November 16, 2019
Napoli's statement was issued barely half an hour before Elmas took to the pitch for Macedonia in their Euro 2020 qualifier against Austria.
In his interview, widely reported in Italy, Elmas said Juventus were well placed to win another Serie A title but added: "There are so many teams in the fight: Inter, Napoli and Roma. The battle will be uncertain until the end."