Napoli shore up the midfield with Demme and Lobotka

Napoli have been searching for midfielders ever since the ousting of Carlo Ancelotti and the hiring of Gennaro Gattuso, who decided to switch permanently to 4-3-3, they got their men in the past few days, announcing the acquisitions of Diego Demme from LB Leipzig and Stanislav Lobotka from Celta Vigo.

Demme signed a five-year deal Saturday and joined for €12M in a rare transfer that proceeded very swiftly for the Partenopei. The 28-year-old, who was born in Germany from an Italian father and was named after Diego Maradona, has been a linchpin of Leipzig over the last four seasons, collecting 214 appearances, scoring twice and providing 18 assists. He has one cap with the Mannschaft.

The 25-year-old Lobotka instead was acquired from Celta Vigo for about €20M and has been on the Azzurri radar for a couple of years. He penned a similar contract, leaving the Spanish club after three seasons and 90 matches, where he has picked up one assist. He has been an integral part of the Slovenian national team for a while, hitting the net three times in 22 games.

Napoli have been paper-thin in the midfield in the first half of the season, operating with just four midfielders, although they got by since Ancelotti constantly used 4-4-2. Demme and Lobotka have both been playing in similar tactics so far this season, mostly featuring in two-man midfields.

The Partenopei were lacking a true pivot and they have tested Allan and Fabian Ruiz there with meager results. Neither Demme nor Lobotka would man the role in the same manner Jorginho brilliantly did for years at San Paolo, but they are more natural in such position than their current players. The Slovenian is more inventive, the German more of a hustle guy, as a matter of fact he has put up numbers comparable to N’Golo Kanté since he begun to emerge.

The duo likely is unlikely to be very relevant fantasy-wise unless they significantly improve their stats, but the additions, on top of bolstering a shallow rotation, will free up Allan, Ruiz and Piotr Zielinski to constantly feature as box-to-box midfielders and so to be more involved in the offense, thus putting them back on the radar. The Polish international had been trending positively since the coaching change anyway, while the Spaniard has been underwhelming this season after a strong 2018/2019. The change of position might allow him to go back to previous levels.

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