Napoli is all set to lose star player Lavezzi as he is about to complete his transfer to PSG. The Azzuri will need to get reinforcements for a number of positions to maintain their steady rise in Serie A.
Euro 2012 has somewhat overshadowed the transfer season till now. However, it is only looming in the horizon and will start with full force once the final has been played in Kiev this Sunday. Some Italian clubs, with Juventus as front runners, have already been very active on the market. The champions have secured a great triangle of players in Isla, Asamoah, and Giovinco, and the majority of their competitors will shiver at the thought of an even stronger Juve team next season, especially in the light of Buffon, Pirlo, Bonucci, and Barzagli’s success in Poland and Ukraine.
Napoli is one of those clubs which hope to compete with Juventus next season, but has done very little on the transfer market yet. The southerners had a good 2011/12 season with an encouraging Champions League campaign, a fifth spot in Serie A, and to top it all, a Coppa Italia win, their first trophy in 22 years. It is clear that the team needs to strengthen even more, if they want to achieve qualification for Champions League next year. If the club management is planning to field a strong team in the often neglected Europa League, which a full-strength Napoli team has a good chance of winning, then buying more players gets even more importance.
Lavezzi’s Fruitful Napoli Career Comes to an End
Despite little activity in the market, Napoli has already made one of the major transfer headlines of this season. It might not be official yet, but Ezequiel Lavezzi is leaving. He came to the club five years ago as a talented but unfocused player and has matured into a world class striker. The fact that Napoli has managed to hold on to him till now is a success in itself. As far as the reports go, Lavezzi will leave for newly rich French club Paris St. Germain for around 27 million Euros (plus some bonuses). That is significant a profit made on a player who was signed for 6 million Euros five years back and who has given the club five splendid seasons on a reasonable wage. Lavezzi however will leave a gap behind him. A gap that cannot be filled with the same level of quality for a less money. Napoli have therefore, and rightly so, chosen to go in another direction.
The new signing is not really a new signing as it is just a “homecoming” of Lorenzo Insigne. Insigne had two successful seasons on loan under Zdenek Zeman (Foggia and Pescara) and is finally deemed good enough to get a chance in the mother club. Insigne has similar attributes as ”Pocho” Lavezzi. He’s fast, small, and technically good and possibly better in front of goal. It is too early to expect him to take over from Lavezzi but he has the required potential. He has to mature and learn the finer points of Serie A, where he has never played before (apart from a single minute against Livorno in the winter of 2010). With experienced players like Hamsik, Cavani, and Pandev (now signed permanently from Inter) around him, his future in Napoli looks good. Napoli fans can only hope that Walter Mazzarri is willing to give him the opportunities he needs to learn and deliver. In Serie A, Young players need time to reach their full potential and Napoli fans will hope Insigne will mature as Lavezzi eventually did.
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While rotations so far have been in the attack, most fans agree that the real problems lie in defense. Salvatore Aronica is a decent and seasoned defender but he is also 34 and not on a level to be a starter for a club which wants Serie A and European Success. Napoli needs one or two central defenders who can bolster the starting XI. Neither Miguel Britos nor Federico Fernandez seem to have the coach’s confidence to partner Paolo Cannavaro in Napoli’s defence. Attackers may grab news headlines, but what Napoli really needs is a top level centerback, who can play on the left side of the three man defence.
Another position where Napoli could also use some influx is the left wing back, a role which is extremely important to Mazzari’s counter-attacking tactics. Andrea Dossena is decent player but was never an outstanding player who could decide games on his own. The former Liverpool and Udinese man has lost his place to Juan Zuniga. Zuniga, on the other hand, is not a proper winger and has a poor left foot. To improve depth of the squad Napoli need a pacy player who can not only defend but also deliver crosses to Cavani from the wings. It is not an easy task to find players like these in the peninsula so Napoli scouts will need to pull their socks up. Few clubs play a system similar to Napoli but there are also very few wing-backs who can quickly adapt to Napoli’s tactics.
Bulk of the money which is coming from Lavezzi’s transfer should be invested to get a good central defender and a good left wing-back. Other than Insigne, Luca Cigarini also coming back from loan. The central midfielder, who was once highlighted to be the next great Italian central midfielder didn’t live up to the hype but he will add to squad depth. Napoli can sell players like Marco Donadel, Mario Santana, and Luigi Vitale, players who are not starters and replace them with one or two youngsters into the roster.
All in all the Napoli transfer campaign thus far has been quiet but sensible. If they want to compete for glory next year, they will need one or two first class additions in the back and on the left.