Without "Monster" and without a mastermind: will Napoli continue to wave the magic wand?

Without "Monster" and without a mastermind: will Napoli continue to wave the magic wand?

What is the mood?

90 points, only four defeats – and most importantly: the long-awaited third Scudetto after the glorious years with legend Diego Armando Maradona (1986/87, 1989/90). Società Sportiva Calcio Napoli was the measure of all things Italian in the past Serie A season. No team played so consistently, no team scored more goals (77), no team conceded fewer goals (28), no team combined or performed magic as beautifully. The deserved reward was the extensively celebrated championship title after 33 years of waiting.

So all peace, joy, pancakes? Not quite: Although the Partenopei are openly striving to defend the Scudetto, they have recently had to rethink a number of things and deal with inquiries from Saudi Arabia in particular. So there are some question marks.

What can the squad do?

First of all, the most important thing: the big stars of the successful championship campaign have stayed – above all Victor Osimhen (24). The ex-Wolfsburger, who was also associated with a move to Bayern Munich, was recently lured primarily from Saudi Arabia. For a salary of one million euros – per week. But the reigning capocannoniere (26 goals in 32 league games) has stayed and is soon to extend his contract, which runs until 2025 – with an anchored clause for a future transfer to Europe (between 110 and 150 million euros) and one for a future Saudi Arabia (at least reportedly double).

Club boss Aurelio de Laurentiis recently confirmed that the club’s whereabouts are extremely important for the sporting ambitions of the club, including the upcoming contract extension of the striker: “Osimhen stays. Where should he go?”

In addition, “the Georgian magic mouse” or “the anarchist breeze with instinct” named Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (24) also stayed. The Georgian, nicknamed “Kvaradona”, made a significant contribution to the great success with 12 goals and 13 assists like Osimhen.

But that’s not all: experienced players like Mario Rui (32) or captain Giovanni di Lorenzo (30), passing machine Stanislav Lobotka (28), midfielder André-Frank Zambo Anguissa (27) or even rotation players like Matteo Politano (30) were kept. Meanwhile, not much was bought apart from Stade Rennes’ midfielder Jens Cajuste (24) or Brazil’s defensive talent Natan (22). However, the strikers Giacomo Raspadori (23) and Giovanni Simeone (28), who had already been loaned out, were finally secured. All of this shows that the Napoli construct was retained overall, so the football, which has been extremely successful recently, can be continued. Or?

What’s the goal?

One thing is clear: at least the Champions League qualification is the goal against strong competition from Milan (Milan, Inter) or possibly record champions Juventus again. Secretly, however, one would certainly like to defend the Scudetto.

However, two losses could stand in the way of this venture: The southern Italians not only lost “Monster” Min-Jae Kim (26) for 50 million euros. Master maker Luciano Spalletti (64) also surprisingly resigned with the desire for a sabbatical year and a fresh tattoo – and after the resignation of Roberto Mancini (58) could soon become the Italian national coach.

What does the coach say?

Rudy Garcia

The new Napoli coach – and immediately after the departure of master maker Luciano Spalletti: Rudi Garcia.
IMAGO/photo agency

So it has a lot to do with how Napoli, which has stayed together overall, copes with the loss of defense machine and builder Kim – and how the football concept holds up a season later. Because the opponents will now know better what to do against these lively and imaginative Partenopei. So could it be that the new coach Rudi Garcia is rethinking some things? Possible. One thing is clear: the 59-year-old – who came from Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr club and previously played for Olympique Marseille or Roma – also exudes offensive zeitgeist. As it suits Napoli and the current team.

How exactly the reigning champions will present themselves as always the hunted will have to be seen from the start of the Serie A season. Coach Garcia is looking forward to it – and is confident about it: “I’m motivated and ambitious.” It was pure joy for him to return to Italy and to take over and continue the project started by Spalletti: “I was warmly welcomed, I thank the fans. As soon as I arrived in the city, I saw flags and banners from the Scudetto – and I have to say , it was beautiful. You can see that football is talked about, eaten and lived here. I like that a lot.” But he also knows: “It will be complicated.” The pressure will be high – on the team and especially on the new coach, who will be watched closely by the usual critical fans and Boss de Laurentiis.


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