The former Napoli defender reveals a series of background stories
Two years have passed since the match between Napoli e Hellas Verona which prevented the Azzurri from accessing the Champions League, favoring the qualification of Juventus. Also, that was the last game of Gattuso on the bench of Napoli but also of various players, including Nikola Maksimovic.
Maksimovic reveals: “De Laurentiis had taken Allegri. Here’s what happened during the mutiny”
Below are the statements of Nikola Maksimovic released exclusively to the microphones of “Tuttomercatoweb”:
“Naples-Verona? Koulibaly didn’t play, I was also out due to Covid… But that draw was above all the result of a mental problem: when you have to win it goes like this. You start making mistakes on the first pass, then the next one and that’s where it all starts. You no longer feel safety on the pitch. But after the advantage, the match had to be closed, you can’t concede a goal on the counterattack, that’s for sure. He lacked concentration. We started the game with the fear of winning, knowing that if we won we would go to the Champions League and Juventus would be out after I don’t know how many years. Can I tell you about those days?”
About the atmosphere in the locker room at that time
“There wasn’t a good atmosphere in the dressing room. I have to leave without extending the contract, Hysaj the same thing. Other players felt they had to leave, the club pushed them to leave by saying through the newspapers that the budget had to be reduced. Then when you enter the game so negative, missing a pass from two meters away, and you know that the coach leaves regardless, everything becomes more complicated. Gattuso was good, he tried everything in that moment and also in the days leading up to the match. He told us: ‘If we win we go to the Champions League, Juve stays out and there’s nothing more beautiful than this. If we have to leave, at least we leave with this result‘. And I’m sure each of us wanted to achieve that result. But unfortunately that’s how it went…”.
“At that moment, if we had gone to the Champions League, Allegri would have arrived as a coach. And I know through some people that he had asked for my renewal. Then I don’t know how she would have gone in reality, they told me so “.
On his possible arrival at Lazio
“It was the first Italian team to look for me after it was understood that I would not renew my contract with Napoli. Just Simone at a lunch with Immobile e Insigne he asked for me, at which point Lorenzo called me to tell me that Inzaghi wanted me and that there was this opportunity. After a couple of weeks we hosted Lazio in Naples and at the end of the game I went into the Lazio dressing room to ask for information. I spoke with Reinawith Milinkovic-Savic, everyone called me to tell me to go… But some manager also had to call me to tell me something, otherwise what should I have accepted?”.
“We met in the summer of 2016, I arrive from Turin on the last day of the transfer market. So I hadn’t retired and in the previous 20-25 days I had been in Serbia because to move to Naples I had to do this, the president in Turin didn’t he had kept his word and I went home to force my hand. I arrive and at that point, in addition to getting back in shape, I have to learn Sarri’s famous defensive line… go slowly.” But then time passes, the team wins and things don’t change. Sarri is such a person, a bit superstitious, and he doesn’t change when things go well. You could also see it in the changes, they were always the same and always at the same minute.”
On his second year at Napoli
“In the summer, I immediately confronted Sarri and told him: ‘Mister, I want to play and maybe it’s better that I go on loan. There are Koulibaly and Albiol, I understand that, but it’s difficult for me this way’. Instead, he asked me to be patient , he told me I was young. But there was pressure on me, there was expectation: I had moved for almost 30 million euros and it was difficult for me to accept that situation which didn’t change. He put me in a game, with Crotone I also scored, but then I wasn’t fielded for 7-8 games, and so on 3-4 times. I didn’t like this attitude from the coach so much and maybe that’s why we didn’t have a very good relationship“.
“He made too many mistakes from this point of view. To win the Scudetto, to achieve something important, you can’t just play with 12-13 players like he did, you have to use the whole squad. Sarri is a very good coach, one of the best with whom I worked. I learned a lot especially on the defensive phase, but if you only use 12-13 players, what do the others think? This creates a negative atmosphere. Those who didn’t play every day were angry with him and it wasn’t just me, there are “there were many others. It was his limit, he was unable to take advantage of the squad to achieve something important and win the Scudetto. Now it’s another story: talking to the players it shows, Spalletti changes often and even young players play who weren’t even in Serie A last year. Spalletti manages to involve the whole group which is what Ancelotti did tooEven if Juventus were too strong at the time, nothing could be done.”
“Look at Elmas: now he comes off the bench and solves games, Zielinski feels confidence and when he does feel confidence, he plays very well. These are things that people don’t see but I know them, I feel my former team-mates: I played five times with Zielinski years, with Elmas two. A player when he feels important is happy and even if he plays 10-15 minutes he exploits them. With Sarri, however, it wasn’t like that, when you came on for 10-15 minutes you thought: ‘Okay, now I’ll come in but it won’t change anyway Nothing'”.
“I was returning from Russia and he began his adventure in Naples. I told him: ‘Mister, I’ve just had two seasons in Naples which didn’t go well for me. We’ll retire so you can see what I can give and then at that point you decide whether I can be useful for this Napoli or not. If you think I can’t be useful, I’ll leave on loan, I have no problems”. He answered immediately: “Nikola, I know everything about you and I want you to stay here. I assure you that you will play this season and you’ll do it very well”. After that he didn’t say anything to me, but in that season I played a lot and all the most important matches. Then he saw something that maybe others hadn’t seen: he also lined up as full-back, he was the first to see me in that role. No one has ever given me the trust Ancelotti has given me“.
“The decision not to retire was ours, the president spoke of a punitive retirement but we played every three days and we were always on retreat. Why add another 10 days of retirement? For us, things shouldn’t have been resolved like this and when I say we, I’m not referring only to Nikola Maksimovic but to everyone. Ancelotti saw the united group and gave us support. De Laurentiis misinterpreted that position, thinking that Carlo had sided with the players and not with him. And so after a while he sent him away… I was really sorry, a person like him wouldn’t have deserved it. He did a lot for the Napoli dressing room, for the people who work there. It wasn’t his fault, but it wasn’t the players’ fault either…”.
On what happened after the draw in Salzburg
“Ancelotti came into the dressing room and said to us: ‘Guys, the president wants us to go to the training camp, what do you want to do?’ ‘We don’t go on retreat, our answer. But I immediately went to the coach and told him that this was a team decision and that he and his staff were right to go to training camp. it was not fair to fine staff who earned little money by cutting 50% of their salary or a full salary. So they went on retreat and we went home. The next day the casino broke out with a lot of fines… Just think that I was among the 3-4 players who actually paid that fine because the others either renewed their contract and resolved it at the time of the sale “.
“Because the president and my former attorney Fali Ramadani don’t agree on the commission. I had reached an agreement with the club. I reached agreement at a lunch with Giuntoli and Pompilio, we even made a toast. It was done. Then two days later the president and my agent argued over the commission. I’m so sorry, I wanted to stay. It was October 2020, the day after the away match on the Real Sociedad field. Giuntoli, Pompilio and I had lunch together, I even took a picture of that agreement: it was a five-year contract with an option. Before coming to talk to me they had undoubtedly spoken to the president, it was a feasible agreement, and then two days later Giuntoli called me and said: ‘We can’t do anything more, the president is pissed off with your agent’. I answered him: ‘And what can I do?’ He replied: ‘Nothing, let’s wait and see …’ Time will pass and the renewal will no longer come”.
“It was always a very delicate subject with De Laurentiis. At that moment my agent tried to reassure me by telling me that he would find an agreement, that they were friends with De Laurentiis, that he had Koulibaly and also Demme at Naples. And I thought: ‘ All right, maybe they have a really good relationship.’ Then the results didn’t help, Gattuso quarreled with De Laurentiis and Giuntoli was also living a difficult moment. The president probably thought I was on their side and at that point it was all over.”
On the Ancelotti-Gattuso exchange
“In the beginning the results weren’t good, you couldn’t find continuity and raise the morale of some players who had gone down a bit after what happened. It was normal… Gattuso, however, was very good, a strong person and a motivator. In that moment he managed to bring out the best in each of us. So we were able to get up and play well, as he wanted. Then in the following season we went into a bit of a crisis again and Gattuso wanted to leave after the home defeat against Milan, it was November 22nd and we lost 3-1. After the game he told us that he would leave, he made a speech to us in the locker room: ‘I arrived when we were in a very difficult situation. Carlo left, I arrived. We needed time to get where we wanted and we did it, but if we’re going down now I have to go away, something has to change‘. Then it didn’t happen, but this was his thought … I can only speak well of Gattuso, he did excellent things for all the people who were there and then he had to manage the Covid period, it wasn’t easy.
“Unfortunately these things are normal in football, they happen all the time. But in my opinion there was still the possibility that he would stay at Napoli, we often talked to him and had we obtained better results he would have stayed, in my opinion. I know that he too wanted to stay: it wasn’t It was easy to work with the president but he always told us: ‘This group is the best I’ve ever coached.’ I’m very sorry about that last game.”
“I’ll be in town to celebrate. 100%. About twenty Red Star fans have already called me to buy tickets for Naples to celebrate the Scudetto.”
March 3, 2023 (change March 3, 2023 | 12:51 am)
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