Napoli president taunts City: Your owner will buy new toy

 

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The Independent Football

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 intentions 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 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 that it was a bad idea.

The striker was not in breach of any curfew when he left at 9pm: Mancini allows his players to leave the base providing they return before the agreed time. But it appears possible that Mancini did not know about the trip to join Fico at a pizza restaurant and the advice given to the 21-year-old was that an individual with his profile should not be walking around Naples the night before a big match.

Balotelli's subsequent "fever", which Mancini gave details of on Tuesday night, was baffling considering he had been out on Monday evening, though there is now some suggestion that it may have been a slight cold.

Balotelli's angry response when told by City's PR staff that he would not be speaking at the club's pre-match press conference on Monday has not enamoured the club's staff either.

City must now beat Bayern Munich, who coincidentally reported £3.1m profits on Friday, and rely on a seemingly weak Villarreal to draw with Napoli on 7 December if they are to progress. Failure to reach the last 16 immediately means the loss of £2.5m to the club. With another £2.8m for reaching the last eight, £3.6m for getting to the semi-finals, £4.8m for being runners-up or £7.75m for winning the tournament, City could cumulatively miss out on a maximum £16.65m, with the share of the "market pool" pot of around £300m TV money taking that potential figure even higher.

By contrast, prize money in the Europa League is far lower and City would have to go to the final for it to make a significant difference. Based on last year's figures they would bank £3.8m by winning it. City have increased ticket prices for the Bayern game to £35. By contrast, an offer available for Europa League games last season offered three tickets for £50.

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