Football: Maradona courts Napoli's favour

Click to follow
The Independent Online
SIXTEEN months after fleeing Italy in shame, pursued by drug charges and legal writs, Diego Maradona has been setting out his terms for returning to Napoli.

With the 15-month ban imposed on the player by Fifa now over, Maradona wants an end to his differences with Napoli, who he is contracted to until June, 1993.

Advisers acting for the former Argentina captain met Napoli officials in Zurich on Tuesday for talks overseen by representatives of Fifa.

Among the conditions set out by the 32-year-old Maradona, according to reports in the Italian press, are the right to return to his native country periodically, including two weeks at Christmas, to carry on his treatment for drug dependency, a payment for returning to Italy, and a house outside Naples. 'If there isn't a solution by Friday, I will thank Fifa and Napoli and I won't play any longer,' Maradona said.

Maradona tested positive for cocaine following a Napoli match in March 1991. He walked out on the club, who then sued him for breach of contract. Napoli are still seeking compensation for losses they claim were due to Maradona's erratic behaviour.

The once revered player, who helped Napoli to the league and cup double in 1987 and the league title three years later, left Italy to a chorus of disapproval. He was even voted the world's most unpopular man - ahead of Saddam Hussein - by readers of an Italian newspaper.

There has been no official word yet from Napoli, but Paolo Paoletti, a director of the club, is one who would welcome Maradona's return. 'I was rather surprised when people said he would never come back to Napoli,' he said. 'It's best for everybody if Diego goes back to playing for Napoli.'

If tomorrow's latest deadline passes with no agreement, there is a queue of clubs waiting to secure Maradona's services. Marseille and Seville are among the favourites.