Wednesday January 17 2018
Was Verdi right to reject Napoli?

Simone Verdi was the primary January transfer target, but the Bologna starlet had to focus on his own development first, writes Vilizar Yakimov.

“I dоn’t want to leave Bologna this month. I preferred to stay here and continue with a growing project until June.” That was Simone Verdi’s confession shortly after increasing reports stated that he is almost certain to join league leaders Napoli before the end of January. The Milan youth product was highlighted as the Partenopei’s No. 1 target for the current transfer window, as Verdi’s name was listed ahead of the likes of another ex-Rossonero Gerard Deulofeu and Paris Saint-Germain’s Lucas Moura.

And while the 25-year-old’s talents are well known among the regular Serie A followers, even the majority of them are uncertain if and how the Bologna man could enhance Napoli’s game and improve their Scudetto chances. After all where does a player from a mid-table side fit in a squad fighting for the Scudetto and possibly the Europa League?

When at his best, Verdi is a tricky dribbler who is remarkably two-footed, capable of producing plenty of damage both when shooting from distance and from set plays. Although the Italian can cover almost any position in attack, he is most comfortable when playing as a right winger. This means that, if he were to join Napoli, he would be competing with Jose Callejon for the spot.

Perhaps this is what swayed Verdi’s decision to turn down the move, as Callejon has started every single game for Napoli this season. The Bologna man has the potential to prove himself at a bigger side, but perhaps the Partenopei mid-campaign would not have given him a real chance to shine.

With six league goals and five assists for Bologna, Verdi is already involved in more goals than Callejon this term, as the former Real Madrid man has matched his goal tally, but has provided just two assists. Averaging three shots per game, the Italian is shooting almost twice as often as the Napoli star, whose average is just 1.7. Since both players have scored the same amount of league goals, this clearly shows that Callejon is the more clinical of the two, as his shooting accuracy is quite impressive at 67%. Verdi’s accuracy is just 46%.

Callejon is averaging just 0.3 successful dribbles per game, which is nowhere near Verdi’s 2.3. This reveals another trend in both players’ styles, as the Bologna man is his side’s main source of creativity, which means that he often needs to dribble past opponents in order to create a good position for himself.

On the other hand, Callejon’s main weapon is his extremely smart off the ball movement, as he often takes advantage of through balls and crosses provided by his teammates – usually Lorenzo Insigne to the back post. Compared to the Napoli winger, Verdi shoots much more often from distance, as he is averaging 1.9 shots from outside the box, while Callejon’s average is just 0.3.

Considering all that, Verdi clearly offered a different skill set than the more composed and disciplined Callejon, who often prefers to play a simple one-touch passing game and look for opportunities inside the penalty area. The Italian’s dribbling and shooting stats are more similar to Lorenzo Insigne’s, which could’ve come in very handy for Maurizio Sarri.

While Verdi wouldn’t stand a chance of matching Insigne’s impact for this Napoli side when it comes to morale, he could have his say when it comes to technical abilities. The Partenopei have often struggled when their fans’ favourite is not in the starting XI, as Dries Mertens’ role as a striker limits his creative influence on the game and, as Callejon’s stats show, he is not the typical provider type of winger. That’s when a player like Verdi would become useful, as his ability from set pieces, dribbling past opponents and shooting from distance can be a menace for any defence.

There is no doubt that currently Verdi is far from a finished article. However, the 25-year-old already has a significant Serie A experience and has shown that he can produce when his team needs him to. But would he have been happy coming off the bench or playing only in the Europa League?

Ultimately, Verdi made a very brave, but probably correct, career choice to continue his development at Bologna. His arrival would undoubtedly have benefited Napoli, giving different skills and options to the attack, but to the detriment of his own development.

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Have your say...
@Pinturicchio. You are ignorant. Players in Turin, Rome and Milan. have been mugged just as just as in Naples. Players homes burgled. There is plenty of garbage in the streets of Turin, Rome and milan. The only difference is the Italian media keep it quiet. Mexes hard is car jacked with his child in the back. What's more is that Turin has the biggest criminal group in Italy. FIAT/Agnelli's/Rubentus. You're also more likely to get stabbed in Turin, stats prove that.racist
on the 21st January, 2018 at 5:07pm

Was Verdi right in REJECTING Naples?
Well yeah.................
on the 21st January, 2018 at 11:01am
@Anonymous I have visited Naples and seen nothing but garbage strewn everywhere... Furthermore, tell me the last city where its own players (Lavezzi, Insigne, Callejon to name a few) where either threatened or robbed at knife's edge by gangs from that city ??

So how am I a racist to call a city which has tons of garbage everywhere and whose people (ahem, thugs, but what's the difference?) rob its own players instead of idolizing them?

PS: Vaffa..NAPOLI is the slur, which means FOOOK OFF to NAPOLI, that's how garbage Naples is.
on the 19th January, 2018 at 4:42pm
Sarri's unwillingness to rotate his squad is coming back to bite him. With this philosophy how can he recruit players?

Where is Giaccherini & Tonelli? I miss watching these players.
on the 19th January, 2018 at 3:28am
Think it was a good move for Verdi and Napoli. Verdi gets more playing time while Napoli's new target, Moura, is much more talented and has experience playing in a quick-passing front 3 already.
on the 19th January, 2018 at 2:35am
He was 100% correct. He goes from being a star man, to a player struggling to get much time ahead of Insigne and Callejon.

Very smart decision. If Napoli want him and he wants them in the summer; it's a better fit.
on the 18th January, 2018 at 10:46pm

Juventus is the greatest Club in Italy.
Anything else is just pants!
on the 18th January, 2018 at 2:51pm
@Pinturrichio or is it ricchione? I'm guessing you are another one of those racist RUBENTINI for using such words against a beautiful city. Probably jealous of the sun, sea, history, culture and food we have as well as a team still top of Serie A!
on the 18th January, 2018 at 1:39pm
I repeat................
If the contract had been adequate, Verdi would have joined Napoli.
As simple as that!
on the 18th January, 2018 at 1:15am
As I live in Australia I only get to watch players on TV. However, all season I have been saying that Callejon offers nothing to Napoli both creatively or defensively. I've never seen the guy make a hard one-on-one tackle and seems to fall over his own shadow.Verdi whilst not as gifted as Insigne would have provided a better option. I'm guessing that Sarri knows that Callejon is weak and is looking to strengthen the right side.
on the 18th January, 2018 at 12:56am
Yes, it is the right, smart move.

I wouldn't necessarily call it "loyalty" though, the player just wants what's good for his career.

Starter vs bench warmer.
Because we all know how Sarri feels about rotation.

He didn't want to be another Giaccherini.
on the 17th January, 2018 at 10:15pm
The ridiculous (I can't use the term which is a synonym for feces, which is apropos for) Napoli fans, with their death threats and their "hope you are injured for the rest of the season" blights on Verdi show just how cultured and classy the city, and in turn, the club is... Verdi is smart to have rejected that garbage city to stay in Bologna, and then maybe move to a much better club in the summer.
on the 17th January, 2018 at 9:31pm

Italians have won 4 World Cups and 1 European Championship with so many near misses to make them extremely near to the very TOP of World football.
We woz robbed in a few occasions as well!
Can't do much better than that................

on the 17th January, 2018 at 8:48pm
Italians in general are morons who will cut off their nose to spite their face, hence the World Cup failure. I look forward to many years of my fellow countrymen making brain dead decisions based on goofy ideas.
on the 17th January, 2018 at 8:06pm
I'd have thought that if Napoli had offered Verdi an adequate contract, he would have jumped at the chance to join the "partanopei". Money talks after all....... A good contract would have been the catalyst, especially as Verdi does have other offers to join a handful of Clubs in the summer.The money has to be right if you want a player to join your Club, otherwise rival teams will snap up the player with a better contract and perhaps a guarantee of first team football.
on the 17th January, 2018 at 7:13pm
This could be a problem for Napoli whilst Sarri is in charge. As we know, the coach is reluctant to rotate. Not only that, but his methods can take a long time for some players to adapt to, that's if they adapt to them at all. You have to commend Verdi in this instance. He's opted for regular football over a lucrative move: at least in the short-term. It's a pity in a way because I would like to see more Italians in the Napoli side.
on the 17th January, 2018 at 12:23pm
I personally think that this will be a blessing in disguise for Napoli. Verdi may be talented, but he is doesn't have any pace, and would struggle in the high tempo of Napoli's build up play. Then there is the question of whether he would actually make that step up in quality - playing for Napoli is different to Bologna. Examples include Cerci, Lapadula, Marco Motta, Marchionni, Borriello (to an extent). All went to big clubs and failed to make themselves seen.
on the 17th January, 2018 at 12:19pm
on the 17th January, 2018 at 11:14am
There is never anything wrong with showing a bit loyalty to your club and their fans this kind of attitude is probably what made verdi such a attractive option for napoli.
on the 17th January, 2018 at 10:45am

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