“We are ready for Manchester and I am curious to see how Napoli will react to the spotlight on such a big stage.”—Curious? ‘Worried’ would be my choice of words - Walter Mazzarri looks forward to the Champions League game this week
A summer of lion masks, scooters and RELEASE CLAUSES but Napoli look in good shape ahead of the season
'Lion Man' points the way
It has been an eventful close season. No sooner had the season finished than it looked like Walter Mazzarri was on his way out of the club. Following ‘crisis’ talks with Aurellio De Laurentiis and Riccardo Bigon the tuscan tactician was confirmed for the coming season. Mazzarri’s backroom staff are also retained for another two years. The summer will be remembered though for De Laurentiis storming out of the draw of the Serie A fixtures after being dealt a bad hand and then riding on the back of a strangers scooter. A truly idiotic and legendary performance.
Napoli kept hold of every star player this summer. Edinson Cavani signed a new contract after his breakout year last season. Marek Hamsik was NOT AC Milan’s ‘Mr X’ and despite the best efforts of De Laurentiis mentioning that Ezequiel Lavezzi has a RELEASE CLAUSE he remains a Napoli player.
Napoli underwent a revolution in midfield.Out went Hassan Yebda, Michele Pazienza,Jose Sosa and Manule Blasi. In arrived Gokhan Inler, putting an end to the ‘transfer saga’ which seems to have went on forever. Fellow Swiss midfielder Blerim Dzemaili has been signed from Parma while both Marco Donadel and Mario Santana arrive from Fiorentina.
The defence has been strengthened with the signing of Miguel Britos from Bologna although he will miss the start of the season after breaking his toe. Argentine international defender Federico Fernandez joined up with the squad this summer following his signing in January and Napoli bought Ignacio Fideleff from Newell’s Old Boys towards the end of the transfer window.
In attack Napoli brought in experienced striker Goran Pandev from Inter on loan for the season and in the most bizarre transfer of the summer Cristian Chavez from San Lorenzo, a player who has been on loan for two season to Argentine second divison side Atletico Tucuman last season
Napoli’s OTHER Swiss midfielder
Can Edinson Cavani have a season like last year? It will be tough. He has been playing ‘non-stop’ for two years and yet to have a proper rest after the Copa America. Having said that he didn’t have much of a pre season last year after the World Cup and we all know how that ended. If he continues to get the level of support from Marek Hamsik and Ezequeil Lavezzi then he could go close to last seasons goal scoring efforts. The arrival of Goran Pandev should mean ‘El Matador gets more rest through the season which can only benefit him and the team in the long run.
One to Watch
Mario Santana arrived on a free transfer from Fiorentina this summer and could be a revelation. He is very versatile. He can play on either wing, as an attacking midfielder and also a second striker. He has bags of talent. He is a huge upgrade on Jose Sosa. If Napoli can keep him fit he may well rekindle his career in Naples. He can be a very special player.
Santana meets the boss….
I am not really a predictions person (i predicted Juve to win Serie A last season). A couple of things to bear in mind. Napoli have added players from a position of strength while other clubs have done so out of necessity and although Napoli were knocked out in the round of 32 in the Europa League this didn’t effect the team and actually aided them in the long run as the team had one goal in mind, Champions League qualification.
If Napoli get knocked out early (and with a group Bayern Munich, Villarreal and Manchester City it looks that way) I don’t think it will affect the team. Napoli are stronger than last year, have a longer bench than last year and have an excellent motivator with Walter Mazzarri in charge. Time will only tell if they have strengthened enough to catch up with AC Milan and hold off the likes of AS Roma and Juventus.
Well that is my little preview for the season. Due to work commitments I sadly will not be able to update this as much as I would like however I will still be around twitter @napoliblogger and I will still be posting the odd titbit on here.