Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

Julian De Martinis On August - 11 - 2011

Napoli Notizie: Ezequiel Lavezzi Takes A Divisive Break

Ezequiel Ivan Lavezzi had a long campaign. 31 appearances in Serie A last season for Napoli proved tremendously successful on both a personal and club level, as the player score six goals and fired his side into the Champions’ League qualifying position. He then joined Argentina’s National Team for an ultimately disappointing Copa America, featuring in two group match games as a starter and one as a substitute out of the four matches that the South American team played.

In a stark contrast to his club form, his notable contribution for the national side came not in setting up or scoring goals, but rather in the acquisition of two yellow cards. After close to ten months of football, Lavezzi merely wanted a vacation. He returned to his club from Argentina on August 3rd, with a simple request to his coach, Walter Mazzarri:

“I would like a week extra of vacation. I need to go to the beach a bit. Where I came from [Argentina], it’s winter and it was not possible to go before.”

In other words, relaxation was the only thing on Lavezzi’s mind, a bit of warm weather after a very cold Copa. Mazzarri humorously replied that he could go on ‘retreat’ but for relaxation instead of training. In other words, he had his coach’s approval. After all, like Mazzarri added, he needed a rest and it would be useless to send a player not fully motivated into ritiro anyway.

There was one problem: President Aurelio De Laurentiis was not happy. For one, Juan Zuniga returned from the Copa just as Lavezzi did, with his Colombian side exiting the tournament at the same time as Argentina. Yet he had been training regularly and had not requested extra vacation time so as Lavezzi flew off to Sardinia for a week in the sun, the Napoli boardroom was heating up as well as the President and Coach looked to face off.

Mazzarri believed he was in the right: “I must make decisions on my own players, and after that, the President is sovereign.” De Laurentiis, predictably, did not respond so well to such claims. He stated after the club’s friendly with Penarol that the side must try to incorporate the Argentine, to send him a message: he who wants to stay in Naples must assume their responsibilities. He promised to give the message to the whole squad, but the true recipient was obvious: it was Lavezzi that was to heed his words.

Ultimately, the disagreement boiled down to boardroom politics: who should be in charge of the squad: the man who pays or the man who coaches? Mazzarri and Lavezzi both believed that some vacation would do the player well before joining the squad for pre-season training, but De Laurentiis believed that the player had an obligation to play for his side. The latter is of course infamous for his outbursts, including the unforgettable scooter incident during the draw for the Serie A schedule this season. As President, he’s clearly looking out for the well-being of his squad with his words in particular almost begging for Lavezzi to recommit himself to the club.

After all, this season is the most important in Napoli since the days when Diego Maradona wore the shirt. The rise of Edinson Cavani, a formation that brings out the best in all players, and important contributions from the likes of Christian Maggio and Marek Hamsik allowed the club to reach the group stages of the Champions’ League directly. Now the club must focus on making serious progress in Europe’s top flight competition, being more like Schalke last season than Atletico Madrid in the season before. For that to happen, everyone needs to be motivated.

That, in essence, is where the two higher-ups differ. Absolute commitment is what the President desires, whereas the coach looks more to make his player comfortable and keep him happy. Although Lavezzi and Mazzarri may have won out in this round, the repercussions from the minor fallout could loom large in De Laurentiis’ head. After all, it would hardly be the first time that he was stubborn, just ask Roberto Donadoni after the former coach asked for a midfielder, or Lionel Messi.

Julian De Martinis

Calcio, Azzurri, and Roma tifosi. Blogger, correspondent, podcast host (@LaMagicast). Lover of books, movies, wordplay, family, and a good cappuccino.

More Posts - Twitter

Comments are closed.

Featured Skills Video

    Write for Serie A Weekly!

    contribute Send us a timely, compelling post and we'll consider it for publishing on the site with mention of your name and social-media link.

    Click here to contact us.


Serie A Weekly recognises all copyrights contained. Where possible we acknowledge the copyright holder. If you own copyright to an image and object to its presence, contact the blog immediately using the "contact us" link at the top of this page. This blog is not responsible for the content of third party sites.