Serie A side Napoli are currently involved in a four-way battle for second place this season, with former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez looking to guide his side back into the Champions League group stages.
They are six points behind Roma in second and five behind Lazio in third. To add to the end of season drama, the Spanish coach’s contract runs out at the end of the campaign and he is willing to wait until the summer to negotiate.
It was reported by Sky Italia yesterday that Napoli President Aurelio De Laurentiis has offered the Champions League winner a new three-year contract but Benitez would prefer a one-year rolling deal and is seeking guarantees that he will be allowed to build a team which can compete in both Serie A and the Champions League.
Now, the players have begun to campaign for Benitez to stay, with French-born defender Kalidou Koulibaly telling local paper Il Mattino that he’d do anything to keep the Liverpool hero at the San Paolo. However, he also stressed that the uncertainty on the coach’s future was not affecting the players.
“Benitez's new deal is a personal matter,” said the centre-back. “Not knowing if he is staying or not does not weigh us down, though.
“What I mean is that I'd do anything to keep Benitez, but our performance isn't influenced by the doubts on whether he stays or not at Napoli.
“Over the last period we've been making many mistakes, like everyone else. The difference is that we concede a goal every time an error is made.
“As for myself, I'm happy at Napoli because I live in a fantastic city and I play in a championship that I used to watch as a child.”
Napoli face a huge game on Saturday as they take on second place Napoli, before their Coppa Italia semi-final second leg against Lazio. Lose both games and Benitez make look to move away. Win, and not only are they right in the hunt for second place, but it could convince Rafa to stay in Naples a little bit longer.