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Napoli’s president de Laurentis confirms existence of release clause in Osimhen’s contract and reveals what stopped Haaland from joining the club

Napoli’s president Aurelio De Laurentiis has opened up on some of the club’s high-profile transfer negotiations, including a revelation about a missed opportunity to sign Erling Haaland and the existence of a release clause in Victor Osimhen’s contract. De Laurentiis disclosed that Napoli was close to acquiring Haaland from RB Salzburg for €50 million. “I was on the verge of signing Erling Haaland for €50m from Salzburg” De Laurentiis said, reflecting on the negotiations. However, the deal fell through when Haaland’s agent, the late Mino Raiola, intervened. “The official proposal was ready, but Mino Raiola told me: please, don’t try to sign Erling as I already planned his next move” De Laurentiis shared, hinting at Haaland’s subsequent transfer to Borussia Dortmund on January 1, 2020, for €20 million.

In the wake of the Haaland saga, Napoli turned their attention to another promising young striker, Victor Osimhen, whom they signed from Lille for €75 million on September 1, 2020. De Laurentiis also touched on the challenges of retaining top talent amid interest from Europe’s wealthiest clubs. “Some players stay for many years, others are wanted by PSG, Arsenal, Man City, Chelsea… It’s difficult to keep players when they are wanted by rich clubs” he remarked, acknowledging the realities of modern football economics.

Adding to the intrigue, De Laurentiis confirmed the existence of a release clause in Osimhen’s contract, describing it as “very high” but stopping short of disclosing the exact figure. This statement underscores Napoli’s position on protecting their prized assets while being realistic about the pull of football’s elite clubs.

The Nigerian striker has already recorded 122 matches in all competitions for Napoli since joining 3 and a half years ago with a return of 72 goals and 18 assists. Osimhen signed a contract extension as recently as December 2023, which runs to 2026.

This revelation from De Laurentiis not only highlights Napoli’s ambition in the transfer market but also the complexities and near-misses that shape the destinies of clubs and players alike. As Napoli continues to navigate the competitive landscape of European football, the stories of what could have been with Haaland and what might be with Osimhen add fascinating chapters to the club’s rich history.