Wednesday August 1 2012

As Lorenzo Insigne prepares for Serie A with parent club Napoli, he has already been commended as the new Ezequiel Lavezzi. Luca Cetta examines the talented attacker.

It is never easy to replace a departing champion. The endless comparisons between he who left and the incoming figure offer a constant reminder. In 1991, Diego Maradona’s exit opened the creative void at the club. It was filled by another diminutive figure in Gianfranco Zola, nicknamed ‘Marazola’ just to further the association.

Fast-forward over 20 years and following Ezequiel Lavezzi’s sale to Paris Saint-Germain the Partenopei have again promoted from within. This time they have called upon the precocious talent of Lorenzo Insigne to sing the same tune as the Argentine as the newest of the three San Paolo tenors, alongside Edinson Cavani and Marek Hamsik.

The Zola-Insigne parallel was this week noted by Luciano Moggi. While someone always quick to offer his opinion on all Serie A happenings these days, considering he was instrumental in bringing the Sardinian to Naples in 1989, he does speak from experience.

Livewire Insigne – who has put pen to paper on a contract keeping him at the club until 2017 - burst into the starting XI during pre-season, impressing against German opponents Bayen Munich and Bayer Leverkusen. Against the Champions League finalists Insigne struck the winner. He featured for nearly all the match versus Bayer and assisted Hamsik, as well as causing a nuisance throughout. The Slovak praised the diminuitive youngster afterwards, noting, “Insigne has already demonstrated his true value.” For fellow teammate Goran Pandev, “Insigne is a strong player and he has personality. He reminds me of Lionel Messi in the way he plays and dribbles, even if Messi is the best in the world.”

High praise indeed. Insigne earned his recall to the San Paolo after dazing defences in the provinces for two seasons. He dropped to the third tier for experience after a debut Napoli appearance in January 2010, initially at Cavese, then crucially to Foggia under the tutelage of Zdenek Zeman. Insigne called the Czech tactician “fundamental for my growth.”

His 19 goals in 33 games impressed the veteran Coach, who took him to Serie B club Pescara last season. Fielded wide left in a three-pronged trident attack, Insigne was adept at cutting inside to utilise his favoured right foot. In 37 games he netted 18 goals and grabbed 14 assists.

With the Pescara class of 2011-12 famed for their breathtaking displays, Insigne’s pace, close control and ability to beat his marker often provided highlights. It opened the door for an Italy U-21 call-up. To date Insigne has played five matches and scored three times, including twice on his debut versus Liechtenstein. He looks unperturbed on the field, playing with a smile on his face and always with a cunning plan in mind to outfox defenders.

At just 21 years old he is by no means the finished product and will need to improve his decision-making. Insigne’s eagerness for goal can cloud his judgment. His role is to change slightly this season, with Walter Mazzarri set to tweak to a 3-5-2 system. Hamsik will sit deeper and Insigne will line up alongside Cavani, but with a free-roaming capacity.

Pandev responded to the inevitable Lavezzi comparison questions with further praise and a word of warning for the talent. “Insigne is different to Lavezzi. They are similar in one-on-one situations, but I think Lorenzo has a better eye for goal than Ezequiel. It will be up to Insigne to prove himself.”

The Naples native is well aware of the electric and at times suffocating atmosphere in the city, something Lavezzi spoke of, but must also deal with it. Even with plenty to prove, Partenopei supporters need not worry too much about the Argentine’s exit if Insigne continues down his current path.

Have your say...
Rannochia, , Verrati, Giovinco, Insigne, De Ceglie, Rossi (if fit)& Viviano need to be implemented into La Nazionale over the next 2 years adding these boy's to Buffon, Chiellini, Abate, Bonucci, De Rossi, Nocerino, Marchisio & Balotelli - Italy could well qualify for Brazil & make a real impression in 2014..Prandelli is the man to add a 5 star to the blue jersey.... i sometimes get carried away.
on the 2nd August, 2012 at 9:05am
Lavezzi was not and is not a 'champion'. he is a very good player but is in no way a champion. throughout his time at napoli, he never managed to score more than 9 goals in serie A. whilst the likes of cavani and hamsik have improved, I don't believe lavezzi has improved all that much since his first campaign at Napoli. I think Napoli got a terrific deal.
on the 2nd August, 2012 at 4:33am
i was sad to see lavezzi go but if a player doesnt want to stay you have to let him go. i havent seen insigne play yet but from what ive read he looks a very exciting prospect. hope he can fill lavezzi's shoes aswell as scoring more goals than he did.just hope mazzarri plays him. hopefully more serie a teams promote ITALIAN youngsters even if it meens results suffering in europe for a few seasons but serie A will be better for it in the future. FORZA NAPOLI!! FORZA ITALIA!!
on the 1st August, 2012 at 5:38pm
Insigne is a very exciting player. I am just worried about Mazzari. He is infamous for ignoring young players (he even said he doesn't like playing them). If Insigne doesn't get enough playing time he should immediately try to go to Roma with Zeman. He better not end up like Giovinco, delaying his career for his club.
on the 1st August, 2012 at 4:06pm
Good to see Serie A sides producing young players again and not shopping overseas for second-rate foreign players. This is what the teams need to do to compensate for financial weakness compared to England and Spain.
on the 1st August, 2012 at 3:23pm
There is probably nothing nicer in football, than seeing a talented player come through the youth system, and then feature for the senior side. Italy has to embrace it's own talents, not just because it is financially prudent to do so; but because they always produce quality players. The trouble is that there is a fear in giving youth an opportunity, because the result is all important; and also the vogue of signing foreign players. Let us hope that the shackles can come off!
on the 1st August, 2012 at 2:52pm
its delightful 2 see Insigne dribble...!!
hope Vargas follows his suit soon...!!
forza Napoli...
on the 1st August, 2012 at 1:40pm
yes indeed, it is quite the time to invest in youth players amid the economical troubles facing. hope to see fresh new faces, promising players for 12/13 season. as with the qualities some of the youth have it is shameful to see that goes to waste.
on the 1st August, 2012 at 12:33pm
I agree with both comments below just a shame that Serie A couldnt keep Borini and Verratti over the summer months, just hope Napoli keep him and he breaks into the National team
on the 1st August, 2012 at 12:20pm
Moh has it right, due to financial times Serie A clubs are forced to promote from within and that can only be good for the youth. It could very well become a blessing in disguise and the answer to Prandelli's plea to give Italian youth more playing time.
on the 1st August, 2012 at 11:29am
If Serie A teams can't buy big name players, they might as well produce them. The future looks bright in Italy...
on the 1st August, 2012 at 10:44am

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