Wednesday July 23 2014
Benitez: Not favourites, but…

Rafa Benitez has considered Napoli’s position in the title race, solving Marek Hamsik, and again interest in Javier Mascherano.

The Vesuviani head into a second season under the Spaniard with odds on winning the Scudetto shortened in light of the managerial change last week at Juventus.

However, during a question and answer session with supporters from the team’s pre-season camp at Dimaro, the Coach has countered such expectation.

“It is not true that we are favourites,” Benitez has told those in attendance on Tuesday night.

“Roma and Juventus finished the last championship ahead of us, whilst Inter and Milan are also strong teams that will be battling to win the title.

“We conceded 39 goals in the League, I say too many certainly. You cannot win a championship suffering so much.

“It really depends on the work of the defence and the rest of the team in their defending.

“We want to win every game, that is why we work both on and off the field. We will try to win the Scudetto.”

Marek Hamsik’s name was brought up more than once during the evening, and whether he is suited to Benitez’s tactics.

“It is clear that after each game in which he played poorly we have always come back to this topic. Yet, no-one talked about it earlier in the season when he had six goals in no time.

“Then, after the injury, he could not find as much space, which is normal. It is not a matter of role, but of the whole group. I spoke with him, I asked him for 12 goals this season, I hope he will be fine.

“Hamsik is a problem? Luckily he is our problem! He is a phenomenal player. He has had some problems last year because of the injury, now he has already started the season well by scoring in the friendly.

“How many will Michu score? I cannot say, the only thing I have done this year, as I have said, is talk with Marek and tell him that 12 goals would be ideal for him.”

Edu Vargas will be back with the squad from today, having impressed during a loan spell at Valencia and then at the World Cup with Chile.

“With Bigon this summer we spoke with his agent, and the player will be here [Wednesday] at Dimaro. He is a player that I really like and who I liked even before.

“I have to talk to him and let him feel the support of the people and see what he does on the field.

“Let’s see what happens, it is not easy for someone who has been out of reach to recover their confidence, we will help him, certainly.”

Benitez was asked once more about Javier Mascherano and responded by going into the audience, picking out a fan and taking him back to the stage, in order to answer.

“Are you in love with your wife, right? Yeah…? Well, would you like to change her?

“Perhaps yes, but if you are in love with your wife, it is obvious that you do not want to leave her for another woman…”

After returning the supporter to the audience, Benitez considered further Napoli’s transfer philosophy.

“Being able to have a positive balance economically and sporting is not always easy.

“We all want to spend much and buy lots of players, just as we wanted Mascherano. It’s not easy to select players who already play at a big club, who already are paid a lot of money and that already cost a lot.

“On the market we try to do the best within our reach.

“There are many that work on the market at Napoli - me, Bigon, and all the staff, the President and the directors. It is not only I who chooses players.

“My experience last year will help me a lot this season. [Wednesday] will arrive many players who were on vacation, the competition between them will be crucial to understand every week and for every game who to send out on to the field.

“Duvan Zapata? He’s playing well, he is a young player who needs to grow. Today he is one of our players, then if tomorrow Real Madrid offer us €50m then maybe we will think about selling him.”