He has won Champions League, LaLiga and Bundesliga titles but Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis said he would never swap head coach Maurizio Sarri for Pep Guardiola.
Napoli have become one of the most entertaining teams in Europe under Sarri, who has overseen a record-breaking seven successive wins to open the Serie A season but Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri appeared to dismiss his rivals recently.
In an interview, Allegri – whose reigning champions Juve are two points off the pace – said it was “easier to be beautiful than winning” after leaders Napoli became the first team in the history of Serie A to win their opening seven matches of the campaign and score at least 25 goals in the process.
De Laurentiis hit back on Monday, leaping to the defence of Sarri as he placed him ahead of Manchester City manager Guardiola, with the two teams set to meet in the Champions League on October 17.
“I would never exchange Sarri for Guardiola, even if they were to earn the same salary,” De Laurentiis said via Sky Sport Italia and Mediaset Premium.
“Sarri is a serious professional who studies his players for months before letting them on the field, which is why I didn’t want to revolutionise the squad this summer.”
De Laurentiis added: “Everyone tries to push forward their own agenda. I say we are both beautiful and winning. I think Gonzalo Higuain is missing Sarri more than the other way around. Our coach is a gentleman and a very sweet man, so doesn’t want to get into fights – unlike me.
“Lots of strikers had their best seasons with us, as Edinson Cavani got 30 goals, Ezequiel Lavezzi bloomed here and even Fabio Quagliarella did well.
“Sarri is a great coach who came from the lower leagues and with Napoli his ascent has been exponential. He is a young mature coach, because despite his age, he accepts innovation. He studies football and puts into practice what he learns.”
Napoli return to action following the international break on Saturday, making the trip to Roma in the Italian capital.