Saturday May 12 2018
Napoli mustn't dismantle now

Napoli must figure out Maurizio Sarri’s situation before evaluating who is irreplaceable in the squad and who isn’t, writes Matthew Santangelo.

Napoli and President Aurelio De Laurentiis have plenty to sort out over the next three months if they wish to compete once again for Italian supremacy, including the future of Coach Maurizio Sarri.

The Italian tactician has earned plaudits all over Europe for his brand of football nicknamed ‘Sarrismo’, including from Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola after the two sides clashed twice during Champions League fixtures this season.

But while supporters would love to retain the chain-smoking Neapolitan boss for this project long-term, there is growing concern that this rocky relationship could come to an end. Chelsea are looking to bring a more attack-driven manager like Sarri to Stamford Bridge with a differing philosophy from Antonio Conte.

Napoli must sort out who will lead the team before anything substantial can be done on the market - which leads us to which components simply cannot be sacrificed.

Assessing this roster isn’t so simple, as there are plenty of players with quality who could easily aid the squad next season, yet may also be expendable for the right fee.

Defensively, Napoli employ several supremely important players, including Elseid Hysaj, Faouzi Ghoulam and Kalidou Koulibaly, whose futures remain a bit foggy at the moment.

The Albania international and Koulibaly are two of the best in their respective positions in Italy, yet may depart Naples in the summer if Sarri does not stick around. These two, along with Ghoulam despite his major injury, are tremendously valuable to the cause and would be awfully difficult to replace on the open market.

Out of all their defenders, losing Koulibaly would deliver the biggest blow when you consider not only how much it would cost for an optimal replacement, but also the fact that there is a massive drop off in security after him. Raul Albiol is in the twilight of his career, while Lorenzo Tonelli and Vlad Chiriches are nowhere near the 26-year-old Senegal international’s level.

The midfield is perhaps where Napoli have the most talent and could survive with a loss or two, seeing as a sale would bring a return sufficient enough to replenish. However, emerging Polish star Piotr Zielinski, Allan, Amadou Diawara and the armband strapped captain Marek Hamsik must remain the foundation in the middle of the park.

Zielinski offers tactical flexibility to play in several midfield roles, and provides an added element to the attack that either Sarri, or his successor, must utilise to the fullest.

Allan is the disruptor every side needs, not to mention he is coming off arguably his best season as a professional. Diawara is widely considered to be one of the top young deep midfielders in the game today, and if Jorginho does wish to explore new pastures in Manchester under Guardiola, then the Guinea international has been prepped to fill that void.

Although keeping Jorginho is preferred due to his importance in the current system and how it operates, the proceeds of a €50m transfer would open up plenty of opportunity on the market for Napoli to bolster the squad in other areas while already having Diawara to undertake those same duties.

Upfront, Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne and Arkadiusz Milik boast heaps of ability that, as a unit, we haven’t been fortunate to see enough due to the Pole’s injuries.

Sarri’s pace, trickery and goalscoring ability up front in the 4-3-3 cannot be blown up and tinkered with too much. There is a possibility the Belgian’s appealing, market-friendly release clause of €28m for clubs outside of Italy will attract major interest, but the 30-year-old is too valuable at this stage of his career to let go willingly when you consider how costly it will be to find a 20-goal producer like him with that bag of tricks.

Napoli fell just short of capturing that title they have worked so hard to obtain, so disbanding the whole project now would be cataclysmic for their hopes of having another go at dethroning Juventus. However, the framework of this squad could look entirely different should Sarri decide to move on.

Having said that, the first order of business for De Laurentiis is to secure the 59-year old long-term and add – not subtract – from what already is a strong squad just a piece or two away from domestic glory.

Have your say...
I cannot understand if Zielinski signs new contract with Napoli, as the lad is only a sub with Sarri all season long, with unknown future under the (possible) new coach.
on the 20th May, 2018 at 9:17am
ADL, please go and get RALPH HASENHÜTTL (RB Leipzig). He played similar attacking style, will suit FC Napoli.
on the 18th May, 2018 at 6:24am
Napoli's biggest problem is their owner ADL..they'll never make that extra step because he thinks hes better than everyone. He drove out pepe reina and now sarri. He has unhealthy relationships with half his staff because he gets too involved and says the wrong things in media. Hes teuly eidiculous and with him napoli will never go to the top
on the 14th May, 2018 at 2:38pm
as the article said, napoli must not dismantle now. I think sarris indications is clear to adl, you sell my any of my jewell tell me now, i will not be there next season. I think now a bigger statement is needed from adl to the fans, players and the coach. I think adl should go and buy like he did some years ago to buy three new players from real madrid. Yeah that will be the testament going forward to the shiny path. Otherwise, napoli in peril danger of loosing an artist and his masterpiece.....
on the 14th May, 2018 at 5:26am
In the past 15 years only 2 teams have been winter champions and not won the league. Both of these were Napoli under Sarri. Maybe they shouldn't try to keep him...
on the 13th May, 2018 at 11:13am
Inter better though....ahahahahahahaha
on the 13th May, 2018 at 12:55am
Nobody is going leave! Sarri will stay. Less chance of winning with Arsenal or Chelsea than Napoli. Napoli did not come second last season Roma did. Napoli just need to go one better in the league again to win title. Seems plausible to think Sarri will stay he seems like a smart man.
on the 12th May, 2018 at 3:33pm
Sarri....lovely man, but easily the most overrated coach in world this article correctly says....he is FIFTY NINE YEARS OLD....and has won PRECISELY NOOOTHING.... Let's start winning things before we start waxing lyrics......
on the 12th May, 2018 at 2:15pm
Perin 15m - Consigli 3m - Sorrentino FR

Hysej - Upamecano 20m - Koulibaly - Ghoulam
Juanfran FR - Albiol - Tonelli - Chirches - Rui

Allan - Forsberg 30m - Jorginho
Diawara - Hamsik - Zielinski - Cataldi 5m

Chiesa 40m - Batshuayi 34m - Insigne
Callejon - Inglese - Ounas

Sell Reina, Rafael, Milic, Maggio, Giaccherini on frees.

They should be able to get in 100m+ for Mertens(getting on a bit), Maksimovic, Grassi, Sepe, Dezi, Machlach, Zapata, Pavoletti, Younes.

Loan out Milik and Rog
on the 12th May, 2018 at 12:39pm
I hope this so called mass exodus is an exaggeration as I fear for us without certain players.I am also bemused as to why so many are linked with the Premier League where man City are likely to dominate for the period while Guardiola is in situ.If Sarri wants to come to Chelsea to win PL titles he has chosen the wrong time...I think they should stay together as many who have left have espoused what a joy it was to play there so I advise caution to all those looking for an careful ..
on the 12th May, 2018 at 12:28pm
If Serie A is to return to being competitive then it's vital that Napoli keep Sarri and their key players.Sarri has been key to Napoli's performances this and the previous season.If he leaves I wouldn't be surprised if the exact same squad struggles to qualify for the Champions League next season.That is the difference a manager like Sarri can make.A consistent line up has also been key.If they have to start from scratch then it's hard to see how any other side will challenge Juve's dominance
on the 12th May, 2018 at 11:26am
ADL already said that he wants SARRI to stay, i hope he stays but he should do proper Rotation and bring some new players in defense & attack, with Sarri tactics Napoli can and should aim to compete in all competitions.
on the 12th May, 2018 at 8:26am
Napoli must keep Koulibaly, Allan, and Zielinski at all costs.
Jorginho imo is Napoli's most important player in terms of implementing their style, but Diawara could lessen that blow were he to leave.
Mertens leaving would be a shame but not end of the world.
ADL better hurry on Perin.
Too bad Toreirra deal fell through.

If Sarri leaves I can't see Napoli playing at this level next season. ADL should hold on with both hands and sign the necessary reinforcements to challenge again.
on the 12th May, 2018 at 3:05am

Post new comment

Your email address is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here.
Maximum 500 characters.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Your responses will be moderated, and sometimes edited, by Football Italia before appearing on the site. Your data may be made public and you accept our Privacy Policy. Please keep your comments clean and try to keep them relevant to the blog above. We reserve the right to reject views that we deem unsuitable for publication.