Napoli have acquired Kostas Manolas from Roma by activating his €36M release clause. He will replace the staple Raul Albiol, who will move to Villarreal for €6M, as already confirmed by president Aurelio De Laurentiis. The 27-year-old defender has reportedly agreed to a four-year contract. La Lupa needed to complete the sale by today for financial reasons. Amadou Diawara will later join the Giallorossi as part of the deal and will be valued at around €20M.
While the two centre-backs are quite different, Napoli will now be able to rely on one of the best and most explosive pairs in Serie A by putting the Greek international next to Kalidou Koulibaly. Like most of Roma, Manolas is coming off a pretty inconsistent campaign, but he has squarely been in the top echelon of League’s defenders in the last few years. He collected 208 appearances, scoring eight times, in five seasons in the Italian Capital. He is the latest victim of their usual strategy of cashing in on their best pieces to keep the balance sheets in order. They will now have to look for a proper replacement as they have only Juan Jesus and Ivan Marcano as potential partners for Federico Fazio.
Raul Albiol has been with the Azzurri since 2013, first brought in when Rafa Benitez was in charge. While he was never the most agile player, he compensated with his positioning and leadership and elevated his game after the rise of Koulibaly, whom he complemented very well. The 33-year-old stalwart amassed 234 caps with the Partenopei, winning a Coppa Italian and a Supercoppa Italiana.
Amadou Diawara burst onto the scenes in 2015 with Bologna and was quickly poached by Napoli: he had a decent first season, but then Jorginho outshined him and he was never fully integrated in Carlo Ancelotti’s schemes, who preferred more technical players in that position. He played only 13 times in 2018/2019, also due to a leg fracture. Still only 21, he will have an opportunity to bounce back with La Lupa, which was in need of central midfielders after the departure of Daniele De Rossi and the potential one of Steven N’Zonzi, who did not show up for the pre-season medical examinations. He should fit well in a more defensive role as pivot in Daniel Fonseca’s 4-2-3-1: they currently have only Bryan Cristante and Lorenzo Pellegrini for such role and will have to further address it.
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