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Ancelotti talks up ‘true quality’ of James and Icardi

Napoli boss Carlo Ancelotti has spoken in glowing terms of the “true quality” of reported transfer targets James Rodriguez and Mauro Icardi.

Club president Aurelio De Laurentiis has confirmed Ancelotti would be keen to reunite with James, with whom he worked at Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

The Colombia star’s future is uncertain after his loan deal with Bayern ended and the option to make that move permanent was not taken up.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Ancelotti said of James: “He is a player I know well and he is true quality.

“Unfortunately, he is not a Napoli player yet…maybe he never will be, or maybe he will!

“Let’s talk about James once he becomes a Napoli player, as we do with other players. If today a manager from another club spoke about a Napoli player, I wouldn’t be happy.”

Napoli have also been linked with a move for Icardi, who has been told by Inter bosses he is not in their plans for the first season under new coach Antonio Conte.

They are reported to have offered the Argentina striker, who is also being linked with Juventus, a contract worth in the region of €7.5million per season.

“Icardi is a great player, held in high esteem by all of us, by me as well,” said Ancelotti.

“All these names of such important players…it is positive they are mentioned next to us.”

Ancelotti also spoke positively about his hopes for a new defensive partnership between Kalidou Koulibaly and new signing Kostas Manolas, with Raul Albiol having ended his six-year stay at the San Paolo by returning to Spain with Villarreal.

“From me and the entire Napoli community goes a big thanks to Albiol, who lived an important spell here at Napoli,” he said. “He was very useful, a true professional and we will miss something there. But one of the best defenders on the market has arrived.

“Manolas is a formidable central defender and he will make a fantastic pair with Koulibaly. They will enable us to play a more aggressive football since we will be able to have a less deep defensive line.”