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Thursday October 17 2019
If only Napoli had Icardi

Napoli’s struggle to break down defensive teams just intensifies the regret at missing out on Mauro Icardi, writes Emmet Gates.

Whilst not in full-blown crisis mode, there are murmurs of discontent surrounding Napoli at present. Failing to find the back of the net in three of their last four games has not gone unnoticed. To make matters worse, all of those fixtures were eminently winnable. Cagliari, Genk and Torino are all teams Carlo Ancelotti’s men should be brushing aside if they are to have serious aspirations of winning something this season.

Being frugal in front of goal is not normally associated with the Partenopei. Over the course of the last several seasons, they’ve usually outscored the champions, constantly racking up score lines that would see Napoli find the net four or five times.

But there’s been somewhat of a regression in recent weeks, and it may only be a short-term slump in the overall arch of the season, but it is nonetheless worrying.

Napoli spent all of last summer trying to engineer a deal for Mauro Icardi, in the belief that he was the perfect striker to complement an already strong side. Yet Icardi clearly didn’t fancy Naples, feeling that it was a side-step and that if he was forced to leave Inter, then it was going to be either for Juventus or, as it turned out, PSG. 

Icardi would’ve scored goals by the barrowful and arguably would’ve been the star of the team. Had it been based purely on footballing decisions, the trip south to Naples would’ve been the ideal move for his stagnated career.

By that same token, Napoli are now suffering from not landing him. Arkadiusz Milik is an ongoing fitness concern, and the Polish striker was incredibly wasteful in the draw in Belgium, to such an extent that he issued an apology to the Napoli fans for his impotency in front of goal. Fernando Llorente is an excellent option to come off from the bench towards the end of a game, but at 34, he can’t be relied upon to consistently score goals.

Furthermore, Lorenzo Insigne has also had a dithering start to the campaign, and was dropped from the squad for the Genk match altogether. Insigne has endured rough spells with the Neapolitan fan base, with the pressure of being a local boy becoming a burden to his slender frame at times.

Jose Callejon, usually a consistent stalwart for Napoli and in the conversation as being pound for pound the best Serie A signing of the decade, looks a player in desperate need of a rest. The Spaniard has only missed six league games in six years, a simply astounding statistic.

Dries Mertens has started the season brightly, but can’t carry the load by himself. Chucky Lozano is still taking his time to adjust to a new environment and looks short of confidence. In essence, Napoli have an Icardi-shaped hole in their starting XI.

How Ancelotti rejigs his highly talented jigsaw pieces in the coming weeks will be intriguing. With games against Atalanta and Roma on the horizon, and with Napoli already six points behind leaders Juventus in the Scudetto race, Ancelotti knows he can ill afford further lost points.

If only they’d got Icardi.

Have your say...
if Milik can show true striker instincts every game like he did on Saturday against Verona then Napoli certainly do not need Icardi.
on the 21st October, 2019 at 4:23pm
They dont need Icardi,they need to grow balls and resiliance.Napoli as much as I love them some games they play afraid of losing and ruin their chances.Ancelotti yes is a great coach who won a lot with big teams but he is not a brave coach,he likes to protect a 1-0 lead bottling at the end.What Napoli need is more courage and consistency.
on the 21st October, 2019 at 9:52am
Napoli does not need Icardi at all, the question is, "Is Ancelotti going to give in to Insigne's lobbyists?" Ancelotti knows he cannot win the Scudetto with Isigne imposed on him. As for Juventus, they were given 3 points again tonight by the referee, it was day light robbery, and disgusting to see as always.
on the 20th October, 2019 at 1:13am
Ancelotti is surely a better coach than all previous Napoli coaches, but he will never win anything as long as Insigne is at Napoli, “No one can win the Scudetto with 10 men” Insigne is a big liability, the preferential treatment he gets is very bad for the team, and its mental strength, Many brilliant [layers were sacrificed just that he can play, Mertens, Gabbiadini, Giaccherini.etc.
on the 20th October, 2019 at 1:06am
Insigne is probably one of the most overrated players of the last decade in Serie A. Don't get me wrong, he's a good player, but always rated higher than what he is. Compare Insigne and Berardi on Transfermarkt. Their overall stats over the last 5 years are comparable. So why hasn't Berardi moved? It's not the first time he's had issues, and has been kept by Napoli simply because he's a local boy. That cachet might be running out. I would not be surprised to see a new LW at Napoli next season.
on the 18th October, 2019 at 7:33pm
@FERBAN,, Oh really?! Do know there is microscopic difference between Tottenham and Man Utd. Tottenham was the CL finalist and Man Utd probably loitered in Europa league. Even so even so minor team like napoli can only be a flash in the pan or close to clinching a title. But oh no failed attempt!!!. You need a better glass to understand San Siro Is a Biggest Brand not San paolo nor de lauretiis.
on the 18th October, 2019 at 2:33pm
Oh really?! Do know there is microscopic difference between Tottenham and Man Utd. Tottenham was the CL finalist and Man Utd probably loitered in Europa league. Even so even so minor team like napoli can only be a flash in the pan or close to clinching a title. But oh no failed attempt!!!. You need a better glass to understand San Siro Is a Biggest Brand not San paolo nor de lauretiis.
on the 18th October, 2019 at 2:31pm
@CG

Inter have been worse in the CL than Napoli for a long time.

As for Milan, the don't belong anywhere near the CL anymore. That was a completely different era, and those days are long gone.
on the 18th October, 2019 at 11:07am
Napoli bla bla... Didn't their nincompoop owner/management boast year after year they're the Barcelona of Italy and one of the top clubs in the world?

Is Icardi really that talented? Is he really that important? Clearly: NO, and NO. Icardi remains static and adds nothing to the build up (Higuain) or even falling-back for defensive purposes (see Mandzukic).

To say Napoli would've been outstanding with him is basically chasing the Irish pot of gold. This idiotic obsession leads nowhere...
on the 18th October, 2019 at 7:14am
If Icardi was that important to the club and challenging for the title - he would still be at inter instead of being forced to leave. The fact that inter had to get rid of him to actually start looking like a serious challenger says it all. He was poison at the club and only now that he has left, have we seen the players perform as a team. Culture is very important and leads to selfish/weak mentalities that will destroy seasons! Let chucky fit in and see how Napoli go
on the 17th October, 2019 at 11:22pm
I get Insigne struggling with fans' expectations but butting heads with Ancelotti?
Not many players in Carlo's long career have managed that.
I don't know what Insigne's personality is like but they need to figure it out. This is ridiculous.
Any more slip-ups is Serie A and there is no chance of the Scudetto.
They need to take it next level or Napoli will miss their opportunity and the likes of Koulibaly, Mertens, Callejon, Fabian, Allan, and maybe even Insigne will leave.
on the 17th October, 2019 at 9:45pm
Napoli is having its issues, sure, but I don't see that having Icardi in the club having his temper tantrums would have helped anything.

Still, something is missing, and Ancelotti/ADL had better figure out what/who it is and fix it, or they'll seriously lose the fans.
on the 17th October, 2019 at 9:05pm
Forget about Napoli. They are, and will always be, a provincial side, who don't belong in the top 4, or in the Champions League. And while that clown is president, it will remain the same. Leave the Champ League to Juve, Inter and (hopefully one day again) Milan. Let the adults play, please. Kids can stay in the nursery school.
on the 17th October, 2019 at 3:16pm
It's certainly a shame the way things went with him.

He's been Serie A's best finisher for years, and Napoli could have been a real force with him rather than Llorente.

Icardi really could have been a huge success at Napoli, but I imagine his wife prefers the circus atmosphere at PSG.
on the 17th October, 2019 at 2:20pm
Napoli and Insigne have had problems all year. The first few months last season were down to Sarriball. In 2019 Napoli is 6 in in the league. Icardi or not the problem is the coach. He needs to go.
on the 17th October, 2019 at 10:41am
Not sure how a penalty box striker would help Napoli break down defensive teams.
on the 17th October, 2019 at 10:01am
What a shame for Serie A that rather than have 3 teams compete for the league,Juve/Inter/Napoli,that Napoli instead have been replaced by Inter as the team challenging Juve whilst they themselves have fallen away.
on the 17th October, 2019 at 9:14am
If only ...
on the 17th October, 2019 at 7:18am
Fortunately Italian and Neapolitan jewel Insigne is never wasteful, with his long distance curlers rather than passes to partners always going on-target.
We mean fans as a target.
on the 17th October, 2019 at 6:44am

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