Napoli had one of the best transfer campaigns of Coach Walter Mazzarri’s reign. Dave Taylor believes they can make a comprehensive challenge for honours.
Best young signing
18-year-old Josip Radosevic pushed to join Napoli immediately, instead of staying with Hadjuk Split until summer, which shows a keen spirit. The highly-rated holding midfielder is likened to a young Gennaro Gattuso and is one for tomorrow, but just may get a few games. The exciting teenager exploded into football’s consciousness this season with several top European clubs, including Real Madrid, linked with him after he became the youngest Croatian to earn a full cap last September.
Best old signing
Emanuele Calaiò was Napoli’s top scorer with 32 goals when he helped them win two successive promotions from Serie C to A in the middle of the last decade. Today the 31-year-old’s experience will be invaluable to the club. It is hard to see the former Siena striker gain much playing time with Edinson Cavani in his favoured position, yet if asked he undoubtedly will give his all.
Questionable but a win, win, win situation
Portuguese international Rolando is a highly experienced defender and an integral part of the Porto team that won the Portuguese League three times and the Europa League. However, he fell out of favour at the start of this season and has failed to play in the league, although he did score twice in the Portuguese Supercup in August. He will only ever be a back-up to Paolo Cannavaro, but his familiarity with European football could be more than useful. Then again if he does not impress as a loanee with an option to buy, Napoli can always send him home.
Would have been great signings
Transfer supremo Riccardo Bigon tried until the very last to bring in Cagliari duo Davide Astori and Radja Nainggolan. Napoli reportedly offered £16m plus Blerim Dzemaili, but to no avail. However, the deal could be resurrected in the summer despite President De Laurentiis claiming new midfielder Radosevic is a better bet than Nainggolan.
A more than useful loan
Pablo Armero is a first rate left wing-back and will belinking up with his fellow Colombian international Juan Camilo Zuniga. Pacey and always ready to exploit any weakness in the opposition defence, he is as menacing in attack as he is sturdy in defence and can adapt to a three or four-man backline. Only on loan,but Napoli have first option on him and if he doesn’t work out, which is unlikely, he can return to Udinese and no harm done.
Every Napoli fan is glad he didn’t leave
As always there were several rumours over Edinson Cavani’s possible exit. However, the 100-goal hero is very happy and wants to become a Napoli legend. “Naples has given me so much and I have a great deal of love for the fans and this city.” Everyone already knew this, but while the window was open there was always the chance someone may have matched his reported £62m buy-out fee.
It’s never easy to find the right players in January, but DS Riccardo Bigon and Mazzarri seem to have efficiently plugged any gaps the squad may have had. With Armero, Rolando, Radosevic and Calaiò, they have brought in players of value for the short and the long term. Each one has different attributes and will have different purposes, but are all the sort of players who can function as a single entity and as significant improvements on those they have replaced. This January Napoli appear to have successfully balanced the incomings with the outgoings and with the Zeus-like DeLa watching over every move they could now have the necessary numbers and quality to push Juventus all the way.