NAPLES, Italy: Luciano Spalletti has confirmed he is leaving Serie A champions Napoli and will not coach next season.
“I need to take a year off. I’m a bit tired and I want to be with my daughter Matilde,” Spalletti said on the sidelines of a transfer market symposium on Monday.
Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis revealed on RAI state TV on Sunday that Spalletti requested a sabbatical year.
“He’s a free man. After 50 years in the film business, when someone comes to you and says, ‘I’ve given my all, a part of my life is ending, I still have a contract with you but I would prefer to take a sabbatical year,’ what do you do? Do you stand in his way?” De Laurentiis posed. “You’ve got to be generous in life. … He’s given a lot and I thank him for that. Now it’s only fair that he does what he wants to do.”
In his second season at Napoli, the 64-year-old Spalletti coached the team to their first Serie A title in 33 years. They won with five rounds to spare.
Spalletti still has one more match with Napoli against Sampdoria on Sunday, after which the team will be presented with the Serie A trophy — their third in club history after Diego Maradona led the team to the 1987 and 1990 titles.
Spalletti becomes the second coach in three years to leave a team that has just won the league — after Antonio Conte parted ways with Inter Milan after the 2021 title.
Napoli sporting director Cristiano Giuntoli — the man who overhauled the squad by signing Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and Kim Min-jae — is also reportedly leaving and could join rival Juventus.
The Serie A title was the one big trophy missing in Spalletti’s career after previously managing Roma and Inter Milan and winning the Russian league with Zenit St. Petersburg.
“Sometimes you leave someone you love,” Spalletti said. “A city like Naples deserves much more than the norm. … You’ve got to ask yourself if we’re still up to the task or not. And since I don’t think that will be the case, I’m taking a step back.”
Former Barcelona and Spain coach Luis Enrique is reportedly being considered to replace Spalletti, as is former Napoli coach Rafael Benitez.