2019-20 Napoli Serie A preview
Background image: Napuliker, CC BY 3.0
Carlo Ancelotti’s first-season trophy streak might’ve ended with Napoli, but the Don remains intent on conquering Italy again. Gli Azzurri finished behind the ever-dominant Juventus for the past few seasons, but have amplified their hunt for dethroning the undisputed champions.
By keeping hold of crucial players and reinvigorating the side by acquiring strong, technical talents, the Italian gaffer has been reassured with positivity from President Aurelio De Laurentiis. Regardless of finishing runners-up, Napoli were wondrous last season.
Young Alex Meret leapfrogged over David Ospina as their #1 by weaving his shot-stopping magic. Kalidou Koulibaly added a few million to his worth by bullying strikers and leading viciously while Elseid Hysaj continued being the trump card with industrious work all around the field.
Allan continued dictating their midfield core as Fabian Ruiz proved a worthy successor to Jorginho. Dries Mertens enjoyed another prolific league campaign(16g,10a), while Lorenzo Insigne carried on his goal-scoring phenomena with 10 league goals. Arkadiusz Milik’s unique ability erupted under a new system to end up as their top-scorer with 17 goals.
Napoli’s major objective this summer was to give Koulibaly an ideal partner. They did so by signing the Greek warrior Konstantinos Manolas from cross-county rivals AS Roma for around €32million, which also saw midfielder Amadou Diawara go the other way for €21million. Rising midfielder Eljif Elmas arrived from Fenerbahce for €16million, as I Partenopei focus their attempts on the next generation.
Giovanni Di Lorenzo was also signed from relegated side Empoli for €8million. Goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis arrived from Udinese for around €2.5million, with midfielders Michael Folonrunsho, Eugenio D’Ursi, Luigi Liguori(free transfer) being signed for €1million respectively from Serie C sides V. Francavilla and Catanzaro. David Ospina, as well as Alex Meret’s deals, were also made permanent for €3.5million and €20 million respectively.
Apart from Diawara, forward Carlos Vinicius left for Benfica in a €17million deal. Raul Albiol returned to Spain with Villarreal paying €5million for his services. Marko Rog and Roberto Inglese went out on loans for €2million each, while Roberto Insigne left for Benevento in a €1.5million deal. Igor Lasicki joined Polish side Pogon Szczecin for €200,000. Gli Azzurri’s net spend stands at around €41.3million, but the potential acquisition of Mexican sensation Hirving Lozano could sky-rocket that to nearly double the figure.
Ancelotti received a real momentum-booster with luxury signings to help keep up pace with the competition. After his Bayern Munich job somewhat hindered his reputation, the Italian remains keen on reaffirming his status as among the modern masters. If history serves as anything, he thrives with a chip on his shoulders.
To his credit, the 60-year-old has done a good enough job to keep trigger-happy owner De Laurenitis happy. I Partenopei have sustained their attractive style in the post-Sarri era, with their new Italian gaffer also integrating a fluid, beautiful system to dazzle spectators. He also amplified the effectiveness of certain multi-talented anchors(like Milik, Zielinski, Mertens). Ancelotti’s positive impact in ensuring his side’s constant growth is why his job is perhaps secured for the long term.
Notwithstanding Juventus’ never-ending dominance, but across the country, Inter Milan are coming to power under Antonio Conte while AC Milan’s discreet rise is bound to make Serie A a highly competitive environment. The 60-year-old remains focused on ending his former employers' monopoly, but overpowering the Old Lady's squad needs a miracle. Lodging a challenge, however, doesn't...
The Coppa Italia is a more reasonable trophy to add to their cabinet, while glory in the UEFA Champions League is nigh-on impossible. However, the priority is always on performing in the league. Napoli’s season starts with surmounting hurdles, with away trips to Fiorentina and Juventus looming.
While they have some relatively comfortable fixtures beyond the Turin challenge, Gli Azzurri needs to come out punching if they wish to reassert themselves as title-favourites. Ancelotti is gunning for his fourth Serie A title as manager, but consistency and dominating on big occasions are quintessential towards ending Napoli’s three-decade-long drought...