The summer transfer window officially closed shop on Monday in Italy, with several clubs managing to get some last minute shopping done – including Napoli who secured the rights of Spanish striker Fernando Llorente on a free transfer after his contract with Tottenham ran down.
Let’s take a look at the rest of the Partenopei’s purchase business and hand them a grade.
Hirving Lozano (from PSV, €38m) – The Mexican international was highly sought after off the back of a terrific 2018 World Cup, so this size transfer was hardly a surprise. However, the destination of Naples was a bit as he did have tons of interest from England. Napoli have their upgrade over Jose Callejon in the Mino Raiola-represented winger.
Kostas Manolas (from Roma, €36m) – Initially thought to be headed to Turin, Napoli went strong after the Greek centre-half as an upgrade over aging Spaniard Raul Albiol and the ideal partner Kalidou Koulibaly when they activated his release clause. An added bonus is the addition of Manolas strengthens the back line while weakening a league rival in the process.
Giovanni Di Lorenzo (from Empoli, €8m) – The Tuscan club’s relegation saw them raided of their best talent, Di Lorenzo being one of them. Considering fee and upside, the 26-year old was a very underrated piece of business by Cristiano Giuntoli that could pay dividends in the short-term and long-term.
Eljif Elmas (from Fenerbahce, €16m) – Albeit raw and unrefined at 19, the Macedonian midfielder comes to southern Italy with promise that has already been shown. Elmas’ brief cameo off the bench vs Juventus served as an appealing sampler of what we can expect when called upon.
Fernando Llorente (from Tottenham, free) – A Deadline Day acquisition, the former Juventus striker brings with him a different profile up front as a towering presence with a wealth of experience and at minimal cost to the club. Llorente wasn’t a sexy move, but one that will likely have a say in the outcome more than once.
David Ospina (from Arsenal, activated €4,5m option) - The Colombian found life in Italy last season very comfortable and rewarding, so his return was ideal for Napoli as the backup for Alex Meret. But, make no mistake about it, the former Arsenal keeper was used quite a bit last season even when the young Italian did return from his arm fracture, which means he will get his fair share to help the cause.
Lorenzo Tonelli (return from Sampdoria) – The Italian defender made his way back to Napoli after his season long loan at Sampdoria where playing time was relatively consistent. A bit surprising to see Tonelli not find a more optimal spot for minutes, but perhaps with Ancelotti including him in his Champions League roster, the veteran will be fourth choice behind Koulibaly, Manolas and Maksimovic.
Other notable arrivals
Leandrinho (return from Atlético Mineiro), Amato Ciciretti (return from Ascoli), Filippo Costa (from SPAL, undisclosed, loaned to Bari), Franco Ferrari (from Genoa, undisclosed, loaned to Bari), Michael Folorunsho (from Virtus Francavilla, undisclosed, loaned to Bari)
Much was expected from Napoli this summer on the transfer front. When you employ a manager like Ancelotti, who was brought in last year for his European pedigree and ability to win trophies, certain market guarantees need to be met to reap the full benefits of the former AC Milan boss.
To an extent, Aurelio De Laurentiis opened up the chequebook with the moves for Lozano and Manolas, bolstering the club to have a better run at Juventus for the title in year two of Ancelotti. But, most supporters believe one more marquee signing was needed in order to settle some nerves and quell any doubt. All signs pointed to Napoli bringing in James Rodriguez from Real Madrid, with the Spanish giants in a position where they needed to downsize and balance their books a bit. Given that the Colombian was ripe for taking and with essentially no real competition for his signature, there will certainly be some regret in failing to make this statement signing. Still, in between all of the purchase business, the club did well to shed weight with sales and generate some good profit, which could perhaps re-open the door for a rekindling of the James negotiations in January. Overall, Napoli upgraded in several areas and improved upon their roster from last season. Grade: B.
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