Owner refuses to sell Liverpool-linked striker; optimistic ex-Reds boss will stay

Rafa Benitez

Aurelio De Laurentiis has said that he doesn’t intend to see two key figures walk away from Napoli.

Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis told Sky Sport 24 that he won’t sell Liverpool-linked Gonzalo Higuain and expects Rafael Benitez to stay on board at the San Paolo.

Earlier this month the Reds were said to be weighing up a potential bid for the Argentine striker by The Independent, with £30 million necessary to pry him away from Napoli.

The Partenopei were hit hard by failing to qualify for the Champions League group stages and questions have persisted over whether the club will need to make sales.

Higuain’s agent and brother, Nicolas, hit out at the reports by telling Radio CRC that the 27-year-old is happy in southern Italy and has no intentions of leaving his current employers.

After a rough start to the campaign Higuain has rediscovered his form and bagged 14 goals and four assists in 25 appearances across all competitions.

And De Laurentiis has spoken out to firmly state that he has no designs of letting the Argentina international leave, instead only thinking of making signings.

He told Sky Sport 24: “I have no intention of selling Higuain. We are strengthening the team and will buy other reinforcements. We have to do this in a methodical manner, not by chance.”

As speculation about Higuain’s future has persisted there has also been no shortage of doubt over where head coach Rafael Benitez will be after this season.

The Spaniard is out of a contract at the San Paolo in June and is yet to commit to returning in the 2014-15 campaign, leaving Napoli in a difficult position.

Last month Benitez revealed that he had turned down two offers to leave the Partenopei. La Gazzetta dello Sport claimed Liverpool were one of the clubs involved, which the former Reds manager denied.

Benitez’s family still lives in Liverpool, which De Laurentiis went on to cite as a possible reason for the Napoli boss to potentially vacate his post come summer.

But the Italian film mogul added that he nonetheless believes the 54-year-old will stay, planning to discuss Benitez’s plans in the coming months.

“I think he wants to stay because he is extremely fond of the city, unless he’s called back by Liverpool, where he has his family.

“Otherwise, it’s a matter of going to another city which is still 2000 kilometres away from his family. But I do not think that after two years Rafa would do wrong and abandon us.

“I will meet with him two or three months from now.”

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