MILAN: Polish striker Arkadiusz Milik was paraded in front of Napoli fans Monday (Tuesday in Manila) ahead of signing an imminent deal with the Serie A giants to replace the now despised Argentina international Gonzalo Higuain.
Milik, who will join Napoli from Ajax, is expected to be officially announced as the Italian club’s new striker on Tuesday.
But on the evening of Napoli’s 90th birthday celebrations at their San Paolo stadium on Monday, the 22-year-old walked out on to the pitch wearing a Napoli shirt as fans sung his praises — and threw a few choice insults in the direction of former star Higuain.
Club owner and president Aurelio De Laurentiis posted a message on his Twitter account which said: “Welcome Milik #ADL.”
The fallout from Higuain’s shock 90m euros ($100.5m) transfer — the third most expensive in history after Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo’s moves to Real Madrid respectively — to rivals Juventus is still being felt in Naples.
De Laurentiis said Higuain “betrayed” the club last week, while fans of the Azzurri, some of whom posted pictures of their Napoli shirts with Higuain’s name in their toilet, left little to the imagination with a range of insults aimed at the 28-year-old.
Former club hero Diego Maradona, who helped steer Napoli to both of their league titles in 1987 and 1990, pitched in with a critique of his own.
In a message sent to the club that was widely reported in the media, the Argentina legend said: “The people of Napoli need to be supported. Stay calm, I am right behind you, I won’t betray you.
“Now, it’s over. Let’s think about making a great team for the people and Higuain can think what he wants.
“Now, it’s over with Higuain, but my love for you will never die. A big hug to the president and all the people of Naples.”