Napoli sporting director Cristiano Giuntoli has revealed how the club to beat Juventus, Roma and Real Sociedad to sign Khvicha Kvaratskhelia. According to Giuntoli, the Partenopei were ‘forced’ to sell Kalidou Koulobaly this summer but have hit the ground running, capped off by a scintillating 4-1 win over Liverpool midweek.
Speaking to Il Corriere dello Sport, the director explained the clubs summer transfers and what lay behind some of the moves, beginning with the Georgian starlet:
The first time I watched Khvicha in action was during the lockdown. He was 19 but was already very good with the ball at his feet. I watched him with Rino Gattuso, and I remember we called Kaladze to find out more about this youngster.
He was playing for Rubin Kazan, but they wanted €30m, so we immediately ended negotiations. We were chasing Victor Osimhen at the time, so we couldn’t spend that much, but he remained in my thoughts. When the war in Ukraine began, he returned to Georgia, to Dinamo Batumi, so we rushed there with a contract and signed him for €10m.
We were quicker than Roma, Juventus and Real Sociedad. He’s always been on our radar. Did Spalletti like him immediately? Yes, there was no doubt that he was a talent. When he arrived in Italy, I immediately sent him to Spalletti’s home and something clicked straight away. We took a huge gamble on him as a replacement for Insigne and it’s paid off.
Kvara earns €1.7m gross, €1.2 after taxes, Lorenzo was getting €9m gross, €4.5m net. We had to run a risk, COVID has affected the finances and we had to bring the club back into a sustainable path. To do that, we had to cut the wage bill. Their departures (Insigne, Mertens, Koulibaly) was a forced choice.
Ronaldo? During the transfer market we pretend to chat with everyone, and sometimes we do it for real. But we wanted to invest in a young team.
Navas is another story. We have excellent relations with the PSG managers. They were interested in Fabian Ruiz, whom we had to sell. We could bring a top goalkeeper to Naples to work alongside Meret. They did not find an agreement on the salary with the player. They knew we had a binding cap. Navas makes a lot of money, €15m gross.
Will we try again in January? No, let’s trust Meret. We are happy that he stayed. He played a great match against Liverpool. Facing pressure during the summer was a good thing for him.”