Ballon d’Or winner ‘lined-up’ to replace Rudi Garcia as Napoli boss after watching shock Empoli loss alongside club president – following Frenchman’s fallout with star man Victor Osimhen

  • Napoli are 10 points off top in Serie A in what has been a below-par title defence 
  • A former Ballon d’Or winner was said to be watching their shock loss to Empoli 
  • DOMINIC KING: I don’t understand what football is anymore – It’s All Coming Up 

Rudi Garcia’s days as Napoli manager appear to be numbered – with a Ballon d’Or winner reportedly being lined up to replace him.

Sunday’s shock 1-0 loss at home to Empoli leaves Napoli 10 points off top spot in Serie A in what has been a miserable defence of the Scudetto. 

According to La Gazzetta della Sport, De Laurentiis has been thinking for some time about how he can replace Garcia and it appears defeat to Empoli is the final straw.

De Laurentiis watched on from the director’s box and fans spotted a former Ballon d’Or winner two seats down from him in 2006 winner Fabio Cannavaro. 

Cannavaro has previously labelled the Napoli post as a ‘dream’ job and it was intriguing to see the former Napoli, Juventus and Real Madrid defender in attendance. 

Rudi Garcia is under mounting pressure at Napoli following a surprise home loss to Empoli

It was a dismal display from Garcia's side, leaving them 10 points off top in their title defence

It was a dismal display from Garcia’s side, leaving them 10 points off top in their title defence

‘I’ve said since the start of the season that Napoli are a good team with a great coach,’ Cannavaro told Sky Sport Italia last year. 

‘Napoli would be a dream for me, I’ve been a fan since I was a kid. I know that I need to work hard first and gain more experience. We’ll see in future.’

The Ballon d’Or-winning defender has a multitude of managerial positions on his CV, to mixed success.

He has managed Al-Ahli, Guangzhou Evergrande, Al-Nassr, Quanjian Tianjin and as interim manager of the China national team.

Canavarro’s most recent post came with Benevento, where he was sacked five months into his reign. 

It is said by Gazzetta della Sport that his biggest competition, should Garcia be axed, is Igor Tudor, a wily old veteran in Serie A who has had proven success.

The issue for Garcia is that fans and players alike have struggled to warm to him.

Back in September, Mail Sport’s Alvise Cagnazzo wrote how star man Victor Osimhen had a ‘serious’ issue with the French boss.

Star man Victor Osimhen was reported to have fallen out with Garcia earlier in the campaign

Star man Victor Osimhen was reported to have fallen out with Garcia earlier in the campaign

Garcia wanted to make his mark after replacing Luciano Spalletti in the summer, but his forced substitutions and questionable tactical decisions were said to have only created negativity in the media and the dressing room.

Osimhen is a charismatic leader within the squad, but was furious at being taken off when Napoli were chasing a winner against Bologna.

He felt that was a clear sign that his role has diminished under Garcia, and that he was being undermined in front of the whole team, while being replaced was also not good for his self-confidence after a difficult start to the campaign.

Osimhen has had to watch on from the sidelines in recent games due to an injury and he cut a deflated figure as his team-mates lacked any zip in attack. 

It was also suggested that Garcia’s time at Al-Nassr was cut short due to a fall-out with Cristiano Ronaldo, another sign that Osimhen is likely far from alone in being irked. 

2006 Ballon d'Or winner Fabio Cannavaro (right) was watching on in the directors' box

2006 Ballon d’Or winner Fabio Cannavaro (right) was watching on in the directors’ box

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