Well, another year down and what a roller coaster year it has been…….
Star strikers leaving and arriving, a new coach, President Aurelio De Laurentiis having a go at UEFA and Michel Platini and Sporting Director Riccardo Bigon has grown facial hair.
Before I start I must give honorable mentions to breakthrough star Lorenzo Insigne and the always well gelled Marek Hamsik who have both been excellent, but have just missed out in this unscientific ranking.
As stated above, this is unscientific. I have watched virtually every competitive match this year (and I still have my health) so my ranking is based on personal opinion.
anyway….. Here is my list of the five players that mattered in 2013
5) - Camilo Zuniga
Whats he doing on the list? He flirted with Juventus in the summer. He scored an own goal which - in the end eliminated us from the Champions League, then signed a lucrative contract extension - only to get injured. But Zuniga is possibly the most versatile player in the Napoli squad. He can play on the left, the right and has been known to play in attacking midfield. He has been tireless worker all year that can dribble at speed and over the past few weeks when he has been injured he has been sorely missed.
4) - Jose Callejon
Raised eyebrows, that’s what everybody had when Napoli paid Real Madrid around €10,000,000 for him. What a steal. He has been sensational since he arrived in Naples. He has scored at a rate of one goal every two games he has played. In some ways he is like a hybrid of Edinson Cavani and Marek Hamsik - Being quiet for long periods only to be in the right place at the right time to score.
3) - Valon Behrami
If somebody asked me to pick one player that summed up the former coach Walter Mazzarri’s time at Napoli it would be Valon Behrami. Hard working, no nonsense and gets the job done. I am sure that for large parts of the year he had a different part of his anatomy bandaged up every time he stepped on to the pitch. As part of the ‘Swiss Guard’ in midfield he takes no prisoners and its almost a failure if at some point during a match he does not pick up a yellow card.
1) - Gonzalo Higuain/Edinson Cavani
How do you split them? Both were involved in big money moves, both of them scored plenty of goals. Cavani fired the team to the Champions League and a second place finish, Higuain is continuing in the same vein.
The two are slightly different beasts. Cavani was a real team player and his explosive style terrified defenders around Italy, you just have to see the many hat-tricks he scored during his time in Naples.
Higuain is probably a more technically gifted player and some of his attacking play and passing has been out of this world. One thing they both have in common - They have been deadly in front of goal this year.
Photo credit - SSC Napoli