Napoli have sacked manager Carlo Ancelotti just hours after he helped the Serie A side seal qualification for the Champions League knockout phase.
“SSC Napoli has taken the decision to part ways with first-team coach Carlo Ancelotti,” a club statement read.
“The friendship and mutual respect between the club, President Aurelio De Laurentiis and Carlo Ancelotti remains intact.”
Ancelotti was in charge on Tuesday as his side defeated Genk 4-0, sealing a second-place spot in Group E behind Liverpool.
It was the first time that the Partenopei have reached that stage of the competition since 2016-17, but it was not enough to save Ancelotti’s job with his side slumping in recent weeks.
Prior to Tuesday’s game Napoli had gone nine games without a win in all competitions, a run that had seen them drop down to seventh in the Serie A table, 17 points behind table-topping Inter.
Ancelotti acknowledged that the victory over Genk may not have been enough to save his job after the game, saying that he was due to meet with De Laurentiis to discuss his future.
Former AC Milan manager Gennaro Gattuso is widely expected to become Ancelotti’s successor.
De Laurentiis and Ancelotti were due to hold talks on Wednesday but the decision was made by the president to bring those forward to post-match where the verdict was given to the former AC Milan and Chelsea boss.
Sky Sport Italia added once news broke of the sacking that the meeting between the pair was brief and that the decision had been made in advance of their rout at the Stadio San Paulo against Genk.
Prior to the rout over Genk, Napoli went nine games without a win across all competitions and the writing has been on the wall for Ancelotti since the off-field drama escalated after a home drawn with Red Bull Salzburg.
Ancelotti has been linked with a return to England – both Everton and Arsenal currently have available vacancies – and having now been relieved of his duties in Naples, both clubs may now decide to step up interest in the 60-year-old.
Napoli’s domestic form has set alarm bells off as they are currently seventh in the Italian league and have not won domestically in their last five matches.
Their season has been on the brink of being derailed since De Laurentiis went to war with his own squad following a 1-1 draw with Red Bull Salzburg in their Champions League group.
The players refused to go on a training camp that the Napoli chairman had organised in response to the draw and it sparked a furious stand-off between the players and the owner.
Reports in Italy at the time last month said that in response, a furious De Laurentiis responded by freezing payments of the players’ wages and sought further advice from his lawyers regarding what other sanctions he could impose.
Players and manager were also banned from giving their side of the story to the press, while stars such as Kalidou Koulibaly, Dries Mertens, Jose Callejon, Allan and Lorenzo Insigne were all linked with January exits.
The situation has yet to be cleared up and De Laurentiis has made the call to shake up the management in a bid to improve fortunes on the pitch.
In total, Ancelotti had 72 games as Napoli boss, resulting in 38 wins, 19 draws and 15 defeats. Napoli scored 126 goals and conceded 71, averaging 1.85 points per game in his tenure.