Napoli’s owner Aurelio De Laurentiis has suggested the Serie A leaders should rest some of their key players for Tuesday’s Champions League clash at Manchester City.
De Laurentiis claims he is also concerned about what effect high praise of Napoli by City manager Pep Guardiola could have on the team.
The game at the Etihad Stadium brings together two sides in outstanding form with City clear at the top of the Premier League and Napoli having maximum points in the Italian competition.
Napoli’s next domestic test comes against second-placed Inter Milan on Saturday and De Laurentiis thinks Maurizio Sarri’s team selection should be influenced by that.
De Laurentiis told Gazzetta dello Sport: “City? I think that some of our players should sit out this game, with Inter only around the corner and being just as important.”
Guardiola said after the Champions League draw was made in August that Napoli were “one of the three best teams right now in Europe playing football”.
De Laurentiis wonders whether any mind games could be going on.
He said: “Guardiola’s praise? It concerned me. I wouldn’t like it if Guardiola’s praise resulted in my players losing focus. He’s a wily old fox and he knows the quality of his squad, which is remarkable.
“For us, it could also be a game that’s almost impossible to win, but we’ll wait for them in Naples.”