Sunday June 18 2017
Napoli need safe hands

Pepe Reina’s status is creating uncertainty in a pivotal role for Napoli, writes Richard Hall.

Despite finishing third this term, Napoli looked like they had the capacity to be the nearest challengers for the Scudetto after Juventus. Their cavalier approach was complemented by collective sharing of the goals, which filled the large hole left by Gonzalo Higuain. The 94 goals scored was the most in the division and they were scored with style. Despite this, the 39 conceded, whilst not horrendous, proved they needed to add steel at the back if they were going to compete with ‘The Old Lady’ next season.

With Arkadiusz Milik due to start the season fully fit, the front line certainly does not need reinforcing in the summer. There is the possibility of adding to the full-back position, but more importantly they need to focus on goalkeeper.

Pepe Reina has been a good servant to Napoli since joining in 2015 and, if reports are to be believed, the Spaniard was offered a new deal until 2019. The reason this may see eyebrows raised is due to the discord between the ‘keeper and his President. At a team dinner in May, Aurelio De Laurentiis made a poor joke about the 34-year-old and his wife that resulted in the pair storming out.

Reina’s potential renewal doesn’t mean Napoli should ignore the list of available goalkeepers this summer. Reina is in good shape for his age, but he has lost some of his agility and this is a problem, as his game has been based on this throughout his career. Despite some incredible saves this year, it has been evident he is trying to adapt his game to that of a more positional role this term, but his decision-making has suffered as a result.

The choice of ‘keeper Napoli replace him with (if they do) will be a difficult choice. Whilst his form has faltered at times this season, he certainly has added value to the team with his distribution. The speed with which Reina collects the ball and, in his own unique way, drop kicks to the wings has led to many of Napoli’s now famous counter attacks. This ability alone makes up for some of the errors.

Whether he decides to move on to pastures new or decides to stay, the Partenopei will have to plan for the future sooner rather than later. What better time to invest in this position than when the rest of the squad is looking strong?

The question of who they would replace him with also depends on whether he stays or goes. If he decides to give Naples two more years, then perhaps the likes of Simone Scuffet or Alex Meret would fancy a move to the Stadio San Paolo with a view to gradually replace him. Should he decide to get the band back together with Rafa Benitez on the Tyne, then they will have to look for an instant starter.

Wojciech Szczesny would certainly fit the mould after his super season at Roma, as despite links with Juventus and Inter, the Pole is still not committed to anyone and has a desire to stay in Italy. His improvement in Rome with his tactical approach and with his calmer temperament would make him an ideal fit, especially with his incredible distribution.

When next season comes around, Napoli will be heralded again as the ones who can push Juventus all the way and offensively it’s hard to argue otherwise. With rumours rife that Udinese’s Meret is a definite target, then perhaps Maurizio Sarri is looking to the future. The 20-year-old is highly thought of and may just be the missing link in Napoli’s Scudetto puzzle. 

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Have your say...
Hey Beppe,

Juve paid $90 plus million so he can score against Napoli but choke against Real.

Money well spent.
on the 21st June, 2017 at 3:22am

You make good points there. If the agent was't involved it would be a great move. Riola will move him on at least 4 more times in his career to make his money. I forgot how that guy operates.
on the 20th June, 2017 at 6:06pm
Uhhhh, agility has been a big part of Pepe Reina's career? I suppose it's been a noticeable failing of his.

He's never been agile. EVER. He's always been an overrated keeper. Except after Liverpool struggled with Benitez, and this year. This year he was as good as ever. Agility has no part in his game and never has. What is the writer saying? He's not Julio Cesar (too bad, Rafa).
on the 20th June, 2017 at 1:39pm
If the leech wasn't Donnarumma's agent then I'd go all in for him, but then he wouldn't be in his present situation if he wasn't in Raiola'a stable. And even if he did join Napoli, Raiola would unsettle him & move him on within 2 years. I've always rated Perin very highly, he is kind of like Italy's version of de Gea. I wouldn't call him injury prone, he's just been unlucky in suffering with some very bad injuries. There are many options, but I'd like to see an Italian between the sticks.
on the 20th June, 2017 at 8:28am
Please dont mention Donnarumma, I don't want Raiola anywhere near this team. Also stories circulating about how donnarumma did something similar to Inter makes me think we should avoid him at all costs. We should try for Meret, Perin has injury woes too often. If we want to properly replace reina then Leno and Diego Alves are good shouts
on the 19th June, 2017 at 10:52pm

I see why you would believe he's out of reach, but if they have true ambition, then why not.

He fits the model perfectly, young with loads of potential. It's not as if he's an international #1 who's playing CL football year in year out with a top club. Napoli have the money to do a deal here. 45 mill Euro would get him.

All this talk of 100 mill is nonsense.
on the 19th June, 2017 at 8:51pm
Napolista, did you like it when "Fat boy" scored against you?
on the 19th June, 2017 at 8:38pm
@Maradonamac Donnarumma is beyond reach, i doubt we would be able to meet his wage demands. I always wanted to see Perin in Napoli shirt too, but his injury record is worrying. I think Meret is a very good and affordable option (we still need vice Hysaj and Callejon). BTW Juventus paid us another 45 m for Fat Boy already?
on the 19th June, 2017 at 7:56pm
Kasper Schmichael would be another good option. International keeper who had a taste of CL football, and Naples can offer him that on a regular basis also. Sergio Romero another.

There are many options not being explored. I'm concerned about Napoli's lack of interest in readymade, experienced, top players right now. I know the model, getting young players in and bringing them through, but we need to really compete next season.
on the 19th June, 2017 at 6:21pm
I wonder what the "joke" was? ADL really needs to keep a lid on it and stop bothering the Sarri and his players.

However, yes, a keeper is needed and I've been saying that for over a year. Pepe has and is great for us, but we need a top keeper to get closer to Juve. Why a deal isn't done for Perin yet is crazy to me. But in saying that, why aren't they looking at Donnaruma? He's young, from Naples and is going to be the very best in the world. Surly if the club have REAL ambition, they try.
on the 19th June, 2017 at 5:37pm

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