There’s an art form to knowing when to sell players. The selling club must navigate a fine line, to dance their finest tango, in a bid to make sure they produce a sizeable profit. Generally there are three roads for them to take.
The first road usually ends in the club striking prematurely, accepting a good offer rather than holding on for another season or two in the hope that player X develops even more and commands an even bigger figure. The second road tends to end with the club striking when the iron is hottest. This scenario is when player X is at the absolute pinnacle of their game, combined with them being relatively young and there is ample room to shift the player on in the future. The third road is when the club holds onto player X for too long. When a huge offer is rejected and the player’s form subsequently never recovers, and he’s later sold for a fraction of the fee that was initially rejected.
The third road is where Napoli find themselves with Brazilian midfielder Allan. At the time of writing, the 29-year-old is in the advanced stages of a move to Everton, and a reunion with Carlo Ancelotti. According to reports, a fee of around €25m plus bonuses has been agreed between the clubs.
In financial terms, Everton are the clear winners in the deal, getting an established midfielder with plenty of European experience for less than €30m. Napoli, by contrast, come out the worst.
In January 2019 French behemoth Paris Saint-Germain felt the Brazilian’s tenaciousness and energy was what they needed in their midfield, and, according to reports, offered in excess of €90m for Allan. This eye-watering sum was immediately rejected by Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis. De Laurentiis, as canny an operator as there is in the Italian game, wasn’t willing to sell Allan in the middle of the season. Unperturbed by their first denial, the Parisians returned for Allan six months later, and again in the January 2020 transfer window, with Napoli again knocking back both offers, this time believed to in the region of €50m.
Allan – who by all accounts had his heart set on a move to Ligue 1 – never really recovered his form for the Neapolitans. The player of the last 18 months has looked a shell of the performer prior to the first PSG offer. Allan’s fury at the club’s continual reluctance to sell him also manifested itself in the so-called ‘player mutiny’ that occurred last November after the Champions League game against Red Bull Salzburg, with most reports stating he, alongside Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens, where the instigators of the mutiny to defy club orders and go home rather than return to the president-sanctioned ‘ritiro’.
Under Gennaro Gattuso, the Brazilian eventually lost his place at the heart of the Napoli midfield as his form continued to nosedive. January signings Diego Demme and Stanislav Lobotka were preferred, and Allan only started seven times in the second half of the season.
De Laurentiis has a commendable track record of selling players. The departures of Edinson Cavani, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Jorginho over the last decade recouped in excess of €150m. The Napoli patron almost possesses a sixth sense of when to take the aforementioned second road, striking the iron when hottest. The Allan saga has unquestionably been his biggest gaffe in recent times, ultimately taking a wrong turn, and in the process losing out on a figure somewhere between €25-€65m for the player.
Perhaps the move to Everton and the reunification with Ancelotti will serve the Brazilian good, because when on form, there were few in Serie A who did the dirty work in midfield as cleanly as Allan.
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