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Brighton assistant reveals Roberto De Zerbi could be tempted to leave club for Napoli | Football

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Brighton assistant reveals Roberto De Zerbi could be tempted to leave club for Napoli | Football

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Roberto De Zerbi has won plenty of admirers since taking charge of Brighton (Picture: Getty)

Brighton assistant Andrea Maldera says Roberto De Zerbi may struggle to turn down Napoli should the Serie A club come calling in the future, with the Italian champions ‘among his favourite teams’.

De Zerbi had huge shoes to fill when he took over the reins from Graham Potter at the Amex Stadium back in September 2022 but the 44-year-old has arguably surpassed expectations, earning rave reviews for the work he has done on the south coast.

Last season, De Zerbi steered Brighton to European football for the first time in history with a sixth-placed finish and the club sit eighth in the Premier League table this term.

The departure of several key players – such as Moises Caicedo, Alexis Mac Allister and Robert Sanchez – threatened to derail Brighton’s progress ahead of the 2023/24 campaign but De Zerbi has coped admirably on a relatively modest budget compared to those teams around them.

Brighton understand they will not be able to keep hold of De Zerbi forever, amid interest from the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea, and the club’s CEO Paul Barber admitted the Italian likely had ambitions to ‘take his skill base elsewhere’ earlier this month.

However, De Zerbi – who is tied into a contract until 2026 – remains laser-focussed on seeing out a successful end to the season with the Seagulls and has repeatedly batted away the incessant rumours over his future when facing the media.

Maldera admits Napoli are among De Zerbi’s ‘favourite teams’ (Picture: Getty)

De Zerbi has made no secret of his interest in returning to his native Italy down the line and Napoli – the reigning Serie A champions – have been mooted as a potential destination for the former Shakhtar Donetsk boss.

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The Brighton manager played for Napoli between 2006 and 2010 and his assistant, Maldera, talked up a possible reunion while speaking to Radio Goal on Kiss Kiss Napoli.

‘De Zerbi at Napoli? He is in love with Italy,’ Maldera said.

The Italian is tied into a contract at the Amex Stadium until 2025 (Picture: Getty)

‘It is his country, and Napoli is among his favourite teams.

‘We’re fine at Brighton. We have another two years on our contract, then if a proposal came from Italy, and also from Naples, Roberto would take it into consideration.

‘I don’t know, but why say no to a place like Naples?’

De Zerbi steered Brighton to Europe for the first time in the club’s history (Picture: Getty)

De Zerbi insisted he was ‘happy’ at Brighton was quizzed on a potential return to Serie A ahead of the side’s Europa League last-16 clash with Roma earlier this month.

‘It’s not true that I don’t think about it, but usually I do what I like. I do what makes me happy and right now it is to be where I am,’ the Brighton manager told reporters.

‘I’m lucky now to be able to compete with these teams at this level to play these games.

‘It makes me happy when we win but also when we lose, I feel something special.’

De Zerbi vowed to return to his homeland at some stage but said there were ‘some things’ he ‘didn’t like’ about Italian football when he left Sassuolo for Shakhtar in 2021.

‘One day I will come back to Italy, I don’t know when this day will come,’ he added.

‘But it’s true that when I made this choice a couple of years ago to go to Shakhtar, I did it because I wanted to find a way outside Italy and, without going into too much detail, there were some things in Italy that I didn’t like so I decided to try something else.’

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