He’s been missing for almost five months due to cruciate ligament damage, but young forward Lorenzo Insigne is finally nearing a comeback as the business end of the year approaches.
The 23-year-old winger was substituted after 25 minutes of a narrow away triumph at Fiorentina on November 9 and hasn’t been seen since. However, he recently announced that he is ready to resume his career and such a reappearance can’t come quick enough for the stumbling Partenopei.
Napoli have fallen to fifth in Serie A following a wretched run of only one win in six League matches, whilst furious speculation over the uncertain futures of Coach Rafa Benitez and several players swirls ominously around the San Paolo.
It’s true that usual replacement Dries Mertens has sporadically produced moments of magic on the left-hand side of a 4-2-3-1 formation in his crocked team-mate’s absence, but Insigne delivered several high-quality displays on his way to racking up six assists and three goals from 25 League starts last term and still has so much more to offer.
It was only last June that English Premier League outfit Arsenal were heavily linked to the starlet, with a £20m bid reportedly on the cards.
President Aurelio De Laurentiis laughed off suggestions of such an agreement when stating his unshakeable belief that Insigne’s transfer value could and should rise to over £60m before he’d even consider letting the Naples-born forward leave town.
The diminutive attacker began the current campaign slowly, but found form shortly before his injury hit when orchestrating a 2-1 win over Torino and subsequently having a significant hand in a 6-2 thrashing of Verona in October. It was only two weeks later that disaster struck, thus putting him out of contention until now with his side standing on the cusp of an intriguing run-in.
Rafa Benitez must feel his charges maintain a healthy chance of claiming a Champions League qualification spot with 10 hugely important Serie A fixtures left to play. Meanwhile, they could yet lift major silverware if either of their Coppa Italia or Europa League adventures come to fruition.
Most teams endure a lull of some description throughout the course of a season, and perhaps the reintroduction of their pint-sized playmaker will kick the Azzurri out of that unwelcome slump. The combination of his quick feet, incisive ball distribution and intelligent movement may prove to be the tonic required to get Benitez’s men back on track.
Additionally, his potential impact off the bench might also be crucial within tight contests, should the creative performer initially fail to leap straight back into the starting line-up after such a lengthy lay-off. His presence would also engender stiffer competition for places in attacking areas of the squad and drive those around him to greater heights.
Neapolitans will be buoyed by the sight of their local hero taking to the field once again after so long in the shadows, and the six-cap Italian international will undoubtedly feed off that affection in order to drag himself through any fatigue he may encounter during the early days of his resurrection.
With his club battling for success on multiple fronts both domestically and in Europe, there’s no better time for Insigne to burst back on to the scene than right now.