Wednesday April 22 2015
Build Napoli around Callejon

Jose Callejon’s recent renaissance illustrates why Napoli must do everything in their power to keep him at the club, writes David Lee Wheatley.

Spanish winger Callejon has been linked with a switch back to his homeland repeatedly since the turn of the year, with Atletico Madrid and Valencia mentioned as potential suitors.

It was his 2013 arrival in Serie A which truly ignited his career, following spells with Espanyol and Real Madrid, with compatriot Rafa Benitez placing faith in the pacy forward to the tune of around €10 million.

He’d been a solid enough performer within La Liga, but seldom sparkled. That situation changed dramatically at San Paolo and he began displaying an impressive array of dribbling skills, devastating movement and creative passing.

The Madrid-born star hit double figures on the scoring charts for the first time in his career with 20 in all competitions – 15 of which were notched in the League – as Napoli lifted the Coppa Italia and finished third in Serie A.

Unfortunately, his form dipped alarmingly as an apparent ‘second-season syndrome’ took hold following a stunning start, which saw Callejon plunder eight goals in the club’s first 10 Serie A fixtures of this term.

That impression is backed up by figures which highlight only one strike converted by the Spaniard in the 31 appearances he made following victory over Roma on November 1.

Rumours of a spat with Benitez were denied back by the Coach himself back in February, while speculation has been rife over the 28-year-old’s supposed hankering for an emotional return Madrid with Atletico this summer.

All of the above seemingly unsettled the two-cap international and subsequently contributed to a downturn that became particularly evident throughout the three-month period from mid-January onwards.

However, he has bounced back to his best during the Partenopei’s last three outings in which they’ve recorded successive victories by a three-goal margin.

Callejon tapped home the final nail in Fiorentina’s coffin after good work by Lorenzo Insigne in a resounding 3-0 triumph on April 12, prior to playing his part in an astounding 4-1 thrashing of Wolfsburg in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie. The right-sided attacker was on target again when finishing a wonderful Marek Hamsik through-ball with aplomb to set the Azzurri on their way to another 3-0 win against struggling Cagliari.

It’s difficult to predict what the future holds for the former Real man, but a contract running until 2018 means his current club hold the cards in this case.

It may be that he wants another chance to finally prove himself on home turf and could actively pursue such a move.

On the other hand, he might well decide upon sticking around should he receive assurances that more investment will be made in the Napoli squad, with the hope of becoming serious title challengers.

There are myriad unanswered questions which will undoubtedly become clearer by the season’s end, but tying Callejon down for the long-term should be near the very top of the Neapolitan club’s priority list, behind the subject of their Coach’s equally precarious situation.

Have your say...
Klopp is only a dream as he will most likely end up at City. Mihajlovic might end up at Napoli but he isn't a good manager, as we all saw his performances at Fiorentina were horrible. He is doing okay at Sampdoria but i doubt that he would give Napoli more than Benitez can. I say either trust Benitez for now or give Eusebio Di Francesco a chance at a big club.
on the 24th April, 2015 at 9:39pm
I wouldn't say build around him but definitely keep him, along with the rest of the front line now. As it stands now, they're already a formidable force in attack. What Napoli really need is a stronger back line and perhaps a quality GK.
on the 24th April, 2015 at 8:38pm
Di Natale wants to leave Udine? This is our chance! Bring the Neapolitan to Napoli at last!
on the 24th April, 2015 at 7:34pm
Callejon is good but the team is built around Pepita. Rafa's platoon approach being able to rotate Insigne, Mertens, Gabbiadini, Hamsik, and Callejon has been brilliant. They're a play-making midfielder, goalkeeper, and central defender away from competing at the top level.
on the 24th April, 2015 at 3:07pm
and if they could get Klopp as manager then they could really become a force! If not Klopp then Montella, Mihajlovic, AVB, or Bielsa would all be good fits
on the 24th April, 2015 at 10:25am
@ Dario & Calcioking I agree, Martinez/Desto would provide good depth and competition for Higuain. I also agree with the list of players you'd get rid of apart from Jorginho who I personally like. The money for those players, plus champions league (If they win the Europa) should allow them to buy 2/3 real quality players. They could get Konoplyanka who is out of contract to replace Callejon and still have 40-60 million left to spend on a Keeper, Center Back, Center Mid, Right Back, and Striker
on the 24th April, 2015 at 10:23am
I would let him leave too! If Napoli make serious investments he would not get a game as his place would be under threat. Yes he has played well some of the time but he is not consistent enough and Napoli could get some good money for him. Personally I would also get rid of De Guzman, Lopez, Jorginho, Rafael, Michu, Andujar and Benitez!
on the 23rd April, 2015 at 11:25am
Terrible article.Gabbiadini...
on the 23rd April, 2015 at 2:16am
@ ANONYMOUS also Jackson Martinez, Mattia Destro who's looking for work and 2 good ol fashioned Italian center backs, and Napoli will do great. OH! Juan Mata might be looking for a team next season.....
on the 23rd April, 2015 at 12:22am
Napoli is a means to an end in Callejon's mind. Pretty sure he wants to go back to Spain and stick it to Real Madrid.
on the 22nd April, 2015 at 5:11pm
Haha you want us to build a team around a guy who has his bags packed and sulked for most of the season?
on the 22nd April, 2015 at 2:21pm
Terrible article. Napoli have a better and younger right winger who would do even better if he got the playing timeā€¦Manolo Gabbiadini. Do you even watch Napoli?
on the 22nd April, 2015 at 1:28pm
Have to disagree with this article. He's a good player but if a big offer were to come in for him i'd take it. Napoli have Gabbiadini, Insigne, and Mertens (Who I also wouldn't mind seeing leave) for the wide positions. If an offer of around 30 million Euros came in i'd accept, and use the money to replace him with someone like Felipe Anderson, Douglas Costa, Mephis Depay, Carrasco, or De Bruyne.
on the 22nd April, 2015 at 1:12pm

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