Sheikh will tire of City, Napoli president gloats


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The Independent Online

The Napoli president, Aurelio De Laurentiis, has rubbed salt into Manchester City's Champions League wounds, revealing Italy's distaste for the club's riches by declaring that "if Sheikh Mansour doesn't start winning immediately he will draw the curtains, go somewhere else and buy another toy".

City's owner, who was present to witness the 2-1 defeat which leaves his club with slim prospects of reaching the knockout stages, has no intention of leaving, though De Laurentiis – a film producer who has achieved a profit for the past four seasons having invested €118m (£101m) on players at Napoli – delighted in the opportunity to tell him how to run a club.

"If Mr Mansour would like to invest in Napoli, he should invest as little as I did and maybe get the team to improve and grow and manage the situations," he said, holding court for so long after Napoli's win that journalists began leaving before he did. "Mansour has wanted to build a toy, but if he does not win in four or five years, maybe he leaves. Football is not just about the money. Mansour takes all the oil money and has built the club only for a personal whim."

It was a lecture City could have done without, considering that elimination from the Champions League could cost them £20m, at the very time that they are seeking to build revenues to begin reducing the Premier League record £197m losses they revealed last Friday and attempt to comply with Uefa's financial fair play (FFP) regime.

The club were also privately frustrated last night after another bewildering 48 hours away with Mario Balotelli (left) who, it is understood, left the team hotel in Napoli on Monday evening to visit his girlfriend Raffaella Fico, despite being warned by a member of the club's coaching staff.

The striker was not in breach of any curfew when he left at 9pm: Mancini allows players to leave the base if they return before the agreed time. But it appears possible Mancini did not know about the trip to join Fico at a pizza restaurant.