Napoli have complained to The Guardian over a story which linked the club with a transfer bid for Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck.

"Napoli sporting director Riccardo Bigon has let Welbeck's agent know that Napoli are interested in signing up his client...but the club from one of Italy's mafia strongholds will need to make Manchester United and Welbeck himself an offer they can't refuse," said the offending Guardian article.

But Napoli press chief Nicola Lombardo was furious with the tone of the report, which suggested the city is best known only for organised crime.

"It is possible that as the editor of the Guardian's sports pages you may not have realised what was written. If not, we would be dismayed to read such a dated, dumb, vulgar cliche as this, linking the city of Naples to the mafia," wrote Lombardo on www.sscnapoli.it.

"This is an archaic impression that is also rejected by English tourists who every year choose Italy -- and Naples -- as their holiday destination. They would not do that if they thought that Naples is Italy's mafia stronghold, a place where people fire at or rob each other in the street."

Lombardo insisted that English Premier League clubs would be equally furious if the tables were turned and pointed to a popular reality show to illustrate his point.

"We would not judge a city like Newcastle on the basis of MTV's Geordie Shore; we do not think all of that city's inhabitants are rude, gym-addicted and sociopathic. It is a shame to see the Guardian did not afford Napoli the same courtesy," he added.