MILAN: Peace has been declared between Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti and team captain Lorenzo Insigne, providing a welcome boost for the Italian side as they look to regain lost ground on Serie A leaders Juventus.
The pair have had a testy relationship since Ancelotti took charge last year with Insigne admitting that he often loses his temper with his coach during training.
Ancelotti’s patience ran out at the end of September when he left Insigne on the sidelines for two successive games, and the forward also started on the bench for Wednesday’s Champions League match away to Salzburg.
But the air was cleared after the 28-year-old captain, the only Naples-born player in the squad, came on to score the winner in a thrilling 3-2 victory over the Austrians.
“I have had some disagreements with the coach but it is all water under the bridge, I respect him a lot,” said Insigne.
“He is a great coach who has always given me confidence and made me feel important. I was wrong in some attitudes I took, I apologized and we cleared things up.”
Ancelotti replied: “I had told him before the game that he would play and be decisive – and so it went.”
Napoli, runners-up three times in the last four seasons, are fourth in Serie A, six points behind leaders Juventus, and visit SPAL on Sunday. Juventus are away to promoted Lecce and second-placed Inter Milan are at home to Parma.
Insigne has been at Napoli since he was 15 although he has had loan spells at Caves, Foggia, and Pescara. His low center of gravity, speed, and close control make him a nightmare for defenders and he scores frequently, often with stylish finishes, though his form can suffer lapses.
Ancelotti handed him the captaincy in February but his frustration still boils over on occasion.
Even club president Aurelio De Laurentiis stepped in at one point, suggesting that Insigne should calm down. “I understand him, I protect him and I like him a lot, but he’s always found his situation in Naples to be uncomfortable,” he said.
Insigne described his relationship with Ancelotti as “a bit odd”.
“At times we have had rows, but that’s all down to our respective personalities,” he said this month. “Sometimes when I get tired or anxious at training, I might end up responding to his observations, but it ends there.”
Insigne, however, said that people had got the wrong idea about him.
“I seem arrogant to them, I think they have an image of me which is different from how I really am. I want to be close to all the fans because I would die for this shirt,” he said.
He’s also tired of being a runner-up. “The time has come for Napoli to win,” he said. “We’ve been waiting too long now.”