Napoli on Thursday confirmed the appointment of Maurizio Sarri as coach of the Serie A club.Napoli have chosen Maurizio Sarri to lead the team forward as coach following Rafael Benitez’s departure for Real Madrid. After Rafael Benitez resigned at the end of the season to join Real Madrid, the Partenopei have been looking for a replacement since, and now Sarri has signed the contract after his surprisingly impressive campaign at the helm of Empoli.
The 56-year-old tactician guided Empoli to promotion in only his second season in Tuscany before steering the minnows to a 15th-placed finish in Serie A last month, attracting attention from Naples and elsewhere. He has been charged with the task of replacing Rafael Benitez, who ended his two-year tenure at Stadio San Paolo last month before taking over at Real Madrid.
Having guided the Azzurri to Serie A promotion in 2014, AC Milan-linked Sarri helped retain his side’s top-flight place last season in impressive style. Sarri resigned as Empoli coach last week despite having two years left on his contract and was also linked with Milan, Sampdoria and Cagliari. He masterminded Empoli’s return to Serie A in 2013-14, and has impressed as the club retained its place, finishing 15th in the table at the end of the most recent campaign.
After spending 24 years coaching in the lower divisions of Italian football, Sarri shrugged off a lack of top-flight experience to steer Empoli to safety with an enterprising brand of play that shone a light on influential midfielder MirkoValdifiori, rewarded with a call-up to the national team and a first cap in March.
“Calcio Napoli announce that the role of Coach for the 2015-16 sporting season has gone to Maurizio Sarri.” an official club statement read on Thursday.
The news comes after yet another meeting between Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis and Sarri, with the latest being most fruitful as the Italian tactician has reportedly signed a one-year contract with an option of a second worth just over €1 million.
The challenge at Napoli lies in rejuvenating a team that fell short during two years under Benitez. The Partenopei finished second under his predecessor Walter Mazzarri in 2013 but could only manage third place and then fifth place during the Spaniard’s tenure. Sarri’s first task will be to convince an unsettled squad he is the man to lead them back into the top-three, with a number of key players, including Gonzalo Higuain and Jose Callejon originally lured to Naples by Benitez now understood to be unsure about their own futures in southern Italy.