After squandering a sizeable lead over eventual Serie A champions Juventus, Napoli once again find themselves behind the Bianconeri in the summer transfer market. Last year’s second-placed club have secured the signings of Emanuele Giaccherini from Sunderland and Lorenzo Tonelli from Empoli, both of whom are solid additions to the squad, but much more is needed from the Partenopei before the end of the window on August 31.
In order to even come close to matching the level of Juventus’ dominance in the latter stages of the previous campaign, Napoli would need to make significant investments, but this is without taking into account the moves that last year's champions have already made. Securing the signings of Miralem Pjanic from fellow rivals AS Roma along with Dani Alves and Medhi Benatia, the Bianconeri have already made a huge statement regarding their ambitions for next season.
If Juve can also pull off an astonishing move to capture star striker Gonzalo Higuain, Napoli will be playing catch-up at an even faster rate. Whilst they are unlikely to accept anything less than the €94 million release clause in the Argentinian’s contract, the policies of President Aurelio Di Laurentiis are seriously hampering the Partenopei’s progress in the transfer market.
His firm stance over image rights saw several high-quality players walk away from talks at the eleventh hour, leaving Napoli unable to secure the kind of personnel needed to mount a credible title challenge. Although footballers usually allow clubs to use their image to promote the brand in advertising campaigns, many secure their own personal agreements for boots, watches and other products.
This can prove to be extremely lucrative, and Di Laurentiis’ insistence on all image rights belonging to Napoli means that any new players must end all existing arrangements with sponsors before joining the club. This is not a new issue in Naples, but recent deals for Lazio’s Antonio Candreva and Zenit’s Axel Witsel have all fallen through as a direct result of this issue.
A €17 million deal had also been reportedly agreed with Roberto Peyreyra of Juventus, only for it to predictably stall when agreeing personal terms. “There are a few problems with image rights, but we knew that would always be something to consider with Napoli and we'll try to resolve the situation,” his agent told Calcio Napoli 24. "Juve and Napoli are talking now. Roberto really likes the idea of moving to Napoli and we hope it can all be resolved in the best way."
This is not a new issue in Naples, nor does it only affect incoming transfers. Di Laurentiis publicly expressed his outrage with highly-rated defender Kalidou Koulibaly after he spoke to the press about a potential €30m move to Chelsea this summer, adding that he would “probably have to pay Napoli millions over the next few years.” These issues only serve as a distraction from the task at hand, which should be building a stronger squad for Coach Maurizio Sarri next season. Whilst Juventus are making headlines through securing deals early on in the transfer window, Napoli are in the news for quite the opposite - their inability to close a deal.