The build-up to the new Serie A season has been dominated by the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo at Juventus, but Friday saw a change of subject.
Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis isn’t happy with rivals Roma, suggesting in a Gazzetta Dello Sport interview that they and Liverpool had the same owners – meaning that the two teams can’t face each other in UEFA competition as they did in the Champions League semi final.
“I’ve always had a suspicion that the real owner of Roma is the same as that of Liverpool, and if this were the case, the two clubs should not be allowed to play in the Champions League,” De Laurentiis said, citing how a “little bird” told him this a few years ago.
The clubs are certainly close. As owners of the Boston Red Sox and Celtics respectively, John W. Henry of Liverpool and Roma chief James Pallotta enjoy a good relationship, as seen in their discussion of the Mohamed Salah transfer over lunch.
De Laurentiis also took issue with the £56m move of Alisson from Rome to Anfield.
“For example, I would never have sold Alisson even for €100 million,” he continued. “I had offered €60m for him but they did not want to sell.”
The Napoli chief is all riled-up, but the Roma reaction has been one of sheer derision.
Pallotta: ‘What do you think @ADeLaurentiis is smoking over there in Naples? If he finds that little bird again, he’ll find out we also own Barca and Bayern’ ?
— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) August 17, 2018
The response is worded similarly to that of Henry’s tweet in 2013 concerning Arsenal and their bid for Luis Suarez.
What do you think they're smoking over there at Emirates?
— John W. Henry (@John_W_Henry) July 24, 2013
Make of that what you will.
The insults didn’t end there though, with Roma general manager, Mauro Baldissoni, also piling in on De Laurentiis.
“He said that this was all suggested to him by a little bird. I don’t know who; I can only think that perhaps Aurelio is listening to the wrong birds! Perhaps we could suggest to him that he should speak a bit with songbirds, who deliver nice melodies rather than speaking nonsense.”