Rudi Garcia said on Thursday he was “as motivated as ever” after the Frenchman was named coach of runaway Italian champions Napoli.

Ex-Roma boss Garcia, 59, takes over from Luciano Spalletti who left his position after guiding the southern club to their first Scudetto in 33 years.

Garcia was sacked by Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr in April with the Saudi Arabian side second in the table just months after the five-time Ballon d’Or winner joined in a deal worth tens of millions of dollars.

“What a pleasure to take on the Napoli project. What a pleasure to return to Italy,” Garcia said on Twitter.

“I am as motivated and as ambitious as I have ever been,” he added.

Earlier, Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis confirmed Garcia’s arrival before the club announced the news on social media.

“I have the pleasure of announcing that, after having met and spent time with him during the last 10 days, Mr. Rudi Garcia will be the new coach of Napoli,” De Laurentiis said on Twitter.

“A sincere welcome to him and a big good luck!” he added.

Fluent Italian speaker Garcia won the French double with Lille in 2011, before guiding Roma to Champions League qualification in 2014 and 2015.

He has also coached Marseille and Lyon in his homeland.

Italian media had reported that former Barcelona and Spain coach Luis Enrique was the favourite to replace Spalletti and ex-Paris Saint-Germain boss Christophe Galtier was also linked with the job.

De Laurentiis had said he had a shortlist of 40 names to succeed the colourful Spalletti.

Garcia will have big boots to fill by following 64-year-old Spalletti, the oldest coach to win the Scudetto and the man who led Napoli to the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time.

The Italian has departed Naples for a return to his Tuscan vineyard on gardening leave with sporting director Cristiano Giuntoli having also vacated his position.

One of Garcia’s main tasks will be trying to keep the title-winning outfit together as they repeated Diego Maradona’s feats in 1990.

Napoli repeated Diego Maradona’s feats in 1990 by winning the league. One of Garcia’s main tasks will be trying to keep the title-winning squad together.

South Korea’s Kim Min-Jae, whose superb season at centre-back quickly made fans forget Kalidou Koulibaly, has a 50 million euro ($54 million) release clause and Manchester United and Bayern Munich are reportedly eyeing his signature.

Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen is also a target after netting 30 goals in all competitions including the strike at Udinese which sealed the Scudetto with five matches left in the league campaign.

Osimhen has admitted he is interested in playing in the Premier League.

However, Garcia can count on working with Georgia wing wizard Khvicha Kvaratskhelia as his contract runs to 2027.

AFP

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