Monday July 21 2014
Napoli and Michu, win win

Napoli have picked up Spanish striker Michu this summer from Swansea City in a deal that has Dave Taylor excited.

Following protracted wrangling, Spanish striker Michu eventually signed for Napoli last week from Swansea City. The 28-year-old finally arrived on an initial year-long loan deal with an €8m purchase option in place for the end of the season.

Of course as with any straniero, there is always a risk. Will he settle? Can he adjust to the new footballing system, to his new Coach, new teammates and the tougher Serie A defences? Some players can adapt quite easily, others can struggle and no manager can really know how things will work out until those signings take to the pitch.

One thing we do know is that with his wealth of experience in Spain and the English Premier League, Michu Perez Cuesta, to give him his full name, is a player who seems to tick most of Benitez’s boxes. “Michu is a player that can play in two positions,” emphasised the Spanish Coach. “He can play as a second striker or as a lone forward. He is able to penetrate and score but also knows how to play with other strikers.”

Benitez is certainly aware of this and experienced Michu at his deadly best when manager of the then European champions Chelsea. In January 2013 Michu scored Swansea’s first goal as they whipped the hosts 2-0 in a League Cup semi-final, before going on to help win the Welsh club’s first major trophy.

So what can the fans expect of the one cap Spanish international? Will he be the player who took the Premier League by storm in 2012-13 or the moody, injury-hit man of his second, whose price dropped dramatically from a reported £20m to a loan fee of a ‘mere’ £1m?

There’s no doubting his quality, as shown by his 22 goals in that first season under manager Michael Laudrup, who bought him for a bargain £2.2m from Rayo Vallecano in July 2012. Laudrup, like Benitez, favoured a 4-2-3-1 set- up and initially brought Michu in as an attacking midfielder, where he played with some success in Spain. However, after scoring twice on his League debut, the Dane began to use him more as a striker.

After that first barnstorming season there was little chance Swansea would have let him leave for anything less than £20m, with Laudrup even suggesting that he was worth nearer £30m.  Michu had finished as the League’s fifth top scorer with 18, and it is this version of the player that Napoli will have hoped to have captured.

Principally seen as Gonzalo Higuain’s deputy, Michu also has an understanding of a deeper role, presenting Benitez with a viable alternative also to Marek Hamsik. And combined with his ability to exploit the smallest of chances and score some absolutely terrific goals, Swansea’s loss should be Napoli’s gain.

At 1.91 metres he is also potent at set pieces, no slouch at dribbling and his ability to shield and pass a ball with either foot also makes him a good second striker or even a playmaker. On the surface of it he should have no problem adapting to Benitez’s style, with one up front and three behind, as it is a system he experienced under Laudrup.

Of course there a few risks to take into consideration, including his poor performances during an injury-affected last campaign. Yet, with his proven versatility and Benitez’s coaching ability there is no reason to doubt that the old Michu cannot resurface.

If he does well, then Napoli have struck an excellent deal and he will represent a bargain at €8m. On the other hand, if he plays like he did in the second half of last season then they can send him home without investing anything but the loan fee. Basically it’s a no lose situation.

Have your say...
Spanish revolution? Callejon, Michu, Albiol. That is hardly a revolution. Rafa has done well with purchases especially Mertens and Callejon. Both have easily doubled their price in a single year at Napoli. Rafa is the most successful coach in Serie A, its great for the league as a whole. Michu fully fit was one of the best attackers in EPL, its a smart purchase. We all want a competitive league. Roma, still will have to face extra pressure with CL. It looks a close season and Juve will be close.
on the 23rd July, 2014 at 11:35am
@Sam de martino
Ancelotti is the manager we need. Conte on the other hand is in my opinion best left to venture as far away from italy as possible- conte is where he is because of great timing, serie A is upside down, it was impossible for him to lose at juve with the league in the state its in. With roma and napoli investing I think he realised it wouldnt be as easy as it has been- look at his european run? Shocking. Im pleased if he doesnt get italy job!
on the 23rd July, 2014 at 11:27am
Napoli will have a good season but it is my Roma s year. We are keeping our best players and making the squad stronger with good signings. Keeping Benatia is massive for us. Hoping for a positive American tour starting tonight and a great season. TO win the scudetto would be amazing and to get to last 16 or maybe even QF of champ league would be fantastic and give us a platform to build on. Forza Roma
on the 23rd July, 2014 at 10:54am
It looks like Conte is on his way to PSG. Another dream gone, he would have been great for Italy. I question whether he ever had any intention of taking it even if offered the job. Really poor. I always thought it was the greatest honour to manage your country, it seems Conte and Ancelotti would rather stay where the money is and where it is easier to win. Where is the pride. Now we will get Mancini and continue to go backwards, no ambition or drive. Makes me sick.
on the 23rd July, 2014 at 10:50am
Insigne is actually a very good attacking play maker that was on a team mismanaged by Capt. Schettino, aka Prandelli. In fact Serie A needs to develop more of these play maker types instead of the defensive oriented players that are tactically astute yet devoid of any creativity to score. Roma are the one team perhaps I've seen that are close to a complete team in the sense their midfield and forwards are comfortable with the ball looking to create along with a strong defense.
on the 23rd July, 2014 at 3:42am
@EVERYBODY look from within the league [SERIA B and PRIMAVERA OR LEGA PRO...]You'll find your staunch defenders and wingers and strikers....that can shine which are ITALIAN.
on the 22nd July, 2014 at 9:19pm
Lookin forward to see michu play along with higuain,hamsik n callejon
on the 22nd July, 2014 at 5:04pm
Napoli will implode this season. Rafa's Spanish revolution will leave the team with no real guts when the going gets tough and the fans will turn on them. Not sure what Michu adds to the team or where he will play?
on the 22nd July, 2014 at 3:31pm
I Think the signing is great for Napoli, and the Serie A in general. however this is taking a serious turn in terms that Napoli - which is a top club in ITALY in the last 5 years - is depending on foreign forwards. and the Italian national team is not benefiting from Napoli Attackers. not to forget the flop Insigne that was a humiliation in the world cup.

some teams should consider making a move towards national players. with the right direction and guidance they will shine bright.

Thank You.
on the 22nd July, 2014 at 2:50am
@ForzaBoro I agree that Italian defences are still superior. Roma & Juve had 2 of the best backlines in Europe last year. Liverpool nearly won the EPL with an extremely suspect back 4 that will get seriously exposed in Europe without significant investment. Only Chelsea were passable in the EPL from a defensive standpoint and they were shipping goals all over the place until Mourinho changed the style halfway through the season.
on the 21st July, 2014 at 11:38pm
@ForzaBoro: Yes, I it's generally harder to score in Serie A. Sides are tactically more astute - more negative, even. Doesn't mean they're better.
@mm: It's not about playing a role. These players offer something that is difficult to attain - experience and winning at a high level. Foreigners aren't any more an issue for Italy - they're producing top players. And Prandelli got it very wrong, especially against Costa Rica - simple. He was also unlucky with Montolivo and Rossi.
on the 21st July, 2014 at 9:28pm
"tougher Serie A defences". Really?
on the 21st July, 2014 at 5:13pm
Win win??? Another foreigner to add to the ever growing list. I call it a win for michu and a loss for serie A. Enough with the foreigners. Was the world cup humiliation not enough? Someone has to speak out. Evra? Cole? Vidic? You mean to tell me there are no italians who can play these roles at club level? Younger italians has to be better than a 30+ foreigner!
on the 21st July, 2014 at 4:30pm

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