This summer has seen plenty of change at Napoli. The departure of Coach Walter Mazzarri, who chose to join underachieving giants Inter, had caused some anxiety at the San Paolo, but the sale of star striker Edinson Cavani to big-spending French champions Paris Saint-Germain for £57m has sparked a flurry of transfer activity spearheaded by new boss Rafael Benitez.
Since taking over from Mazzarri, the former Liverpool manager has wasted no time in reshaping the Napoli squad in his own image. The sale of Cavani, coupled with guaranteed Champions League football, has swelled the club’s transfer budget, allowing him to bring in a handful of new recruits including a trio of fringe players from Real Madrid.
For roughly the same amount of money that they received for the sale of Cavani, Napoli brought in central defender Raul Albiol, winger Jose Callejon and Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain, who was earlier rumoured to be on his way to Arsenal instead. Also new at the San Paolo are Belgian forward Dries Mertens and goalkeeper Pepe Reina.
By far the most eye-catching new arrival is Higuain, who despite playing well for his former club was deemed surplus to requirements. Higuain’s moved showed that Benitez and Napoli are determined to win their first Serie A title for more than two decades and he’s almost as prolific as the man he replaced.
The fans say yes
Higuain is likely to relish his new role in Italy as his club’s main striker and with help from the likes of Callejon, Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne and highly-rated playmaker Marek Hamsik, he could tear through Serie A defences with ease, and many fans agreed when taking to social media. Ladbrokes recently conducted some research into the reactions to certain big transfers on social media, turning it into an infographic.
As it happened, a lot of people talked favourably about the Argentine’s switch from the Bernabeu. A significant 68 per cent of people are favourable towards his move from Real Madrid to Napoli, which shows that many believe that his transfer should mean that they won’t miss Cavani too much, while the signatures of Albiol and the rest show that second place is not an option for Benitez.
The arrival of Higuain and more international-class players to Napoli should add depth to a squad which did well to finish in second place last year. Higuain in particular must hit the ground running if Napoli are to pose a more potent challenge to Juventus for the Scudetto, while the other forwards, including the promising Insigne, must assist him.
Should Higuain perform, Napoli should at the very least seal Champions League qualification for a second successive season. Meanwhile, much-needed defensive reinforcements should mean that Benitez makes his team harder to beat, with the loan signing of goalkeeper Reina, who he worked with so effectively during his time at Liverpool, looking particularly inspiring.