Lorenzo Insigne has pledged to captain Napoli for a long time’ and is relishing the ‘special flavour’ of facing Juventus on Sunday.
Insigne replaced Marek Hamsik as Napoli captain after the midfielder left for Dalian Yifang last month, while Napoli have again emerged as Juve’s closest competitors in Serie A, despite a 13-point gap between the two sides.
“A Neapolitan wearing the Napoli armband doesn’t happen every day,” the Naples native told Sky Sport Italia.
“I became a new captain after Hamsik’s departure and I’m proud of it. I want to represent the Napoli fans and I hope I wear it for a long time.
“Ancelotti changed my position and I feel good, although lately I haven’t been as sharp as I was at the start of the season.
“The important thing is to always work hard, goals aside. The performance is important. It’ll be a very emotive game against Juve.
“The gap is big between us and them, but we’ll try to win because the game has a special flavour: it’s always nice to score at Juve, but the important thing is the performance.
“Hamsik made history at the club. He broke Maradona’s goal record as a midfielder: he can only be seen as an example.
“I’m proud to have played with him, he’s a champion on and off the field. He never said a word out of place, he never complained about being substituted or being a substitute in a big game.
“He always gave his best and that’s what makes him an example: we can only say ‘thank you’ to him.
“Ancelotti’s brought his serenity with him. He occasionally gets angry but only when it’s necessary, both in game and in training, and that’s done us good.
“Even if we’re far from the top, we have a Champions League to qualify for and a Europa League to win.
“Juventus have a great squad. Ours isn’t far behind but they’re a little further ahead. We were unlucky against Chievo and Torino, against whom we weren’t ruthless enough.
“It’s our first year under Ancelotti, there are new training and new tactics. No-one predicted us to be in the Champions League places at the start of the season.
“Instead we were the team who came closest to Juve. Sooner or later we’ll be rewarded. Our goal at Juventus Stadium? Koulibaly led us to our first victory there.
“Perhaps to win the Scudetto it was better not to beat Juventus there, but it was still a great victor and he scored a great goal. And Kalidou made us all envy him…”
Insigne then had some words of encouragement for the in-form Arkadiusz Milik and Dries Mertens, who has scored just one Serie A goal since November 2.
“When us strikers don’t score, it always creates talk,” he added.
“I’ve been there too, he’s a great striker and he’ll show it. Arkadiusz has suffered two injuries in a row, not small ones either.
“I’m glad he’s back at the highest level. I think he can still improve, he’s young and he can us give a lot: with his goals we can reach important objectives.”