As the clocks ticks away on Italy’s transfer window, several of Serie A’s biggest clubs remain active on the market, including Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli who, with an additional signing or two, will be well positioned and poised to give eight-consecutive title winners Juventus a real run for their money.
In the meantime, while business continues to be sorted out off the pitch, action returns on it with round 1 of the 2019/20 campaign to commence this weekend. Let’s assume the Partenopei remain as is for a moment with the current squad intact. Here are five players poised for solid seasons and with something to prove for the Scudetto contenders.
Giovanni di Lorenzo (DEF) – Di Lorenzo comes off a solid 2018/19 season at Empoli who, as a result of their relegation, had a fire sale this summer. As the first signing to enter the fray at Napoli for a meager €8 million, the 26-year old right-back brings with him to the San Paolo a balanced skillset, though Ancelotti will surely tap into his offensive game and ability to contribute in the final third. With this important step up to the Partenopei as a possible starter, Di Lorenzo must prove he possesses the quality to compete at a higher level for a title contender and even show why Italy boss Roberto Mancini should phone him for future Azzurri duty ahead of Euro 2020.
Jose Callejon (ATT) - No matter how much a certain section of the proud Napoli fanbase attempts to force him out, Callejon still remains at the club entering the 2019/20 season in somewhat a key role. Fresh off his 3 goals and 10 assists last year, the 32-year old has proven he can influence offensively and turn in his occasional solid performance. But, with Mexico international Hirving “Chucky” Lozano joining, Callejon has stiff competition in his €42 million longterm replacement, meaning he cannot get too cozy on the right flank. Either the former Real Madrid takes his new role in stride and steps up for Ancelotti when needed with a spark, or quickly becomes an afterthought in the Italian top flight.
Alex Meret (GK) - Arriving to Naples for €35 million last summer with heaps of promise, plaudits and potential behind his name, Meret’s debut season was initially limited due to a fractured arm, but supported by solid goalkeeping by David Ospina in his absence. Upon returning, the 22-year old from Udine impressed in his split time with the Arsenal loanee, notching 7 clean sheets in 13 starts and putting his lightning-quick reflexes to use. Though Ospina‘s option was picked up by the Italian outfit, and Orestis Karnezis is in the mix as third choice, it is Meret’s job to lose.
Piotr Zielinski (MID) - The Polish International remains at the heart of the Napoli project entering the season, offering Ancelotti a wealth of positional flexibility and quality to go along with it. Having already logged over 100 appearances for the club since his 2016 transfer from Udinese, Zielinski has proven reliable for two managers in a variety of roles, but many believe there is another level he could reach moving forward. At 25, and officially on the radar of clubs around Europe, 2019/20 could be the time for a breakout campaign, one which sees Zielinski move into the upper echelon of Serie A’s premier midfield ranks.
Lorenzo Insigne (ATT) - Undeniably talented with a penchant for creating goalscoring chances, Insigne is a key man for his boyhood club, having been posting good offensive numbers over the past few seasons. However, we would be remiss to believe he has reached the surface of his full potential, especially for the Italian National Team – which is a worthy conversation in its own right, but more appropriate for another time. The Mino Raiola-represented winger has often been subjected to more pressure as the local product, and more so as the rightful heir of Marek Hamsik‘s captaincy. With the Slovakian out of the picture, and Insigne now strapped with the armband full-time, the playmaker shouldering this responsibility means the fans will demand and expect much more from him out on the pitch as Napoli look to press Juventus for the title once again.
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