Three Things Napoli Should Do to Get Back on Track

Going into the new season, much was expected from Napoli under Carlo Ancelotti. Having added Kostas Manolas, Giovanni Di Lorenzo and Hirving Lozano among others, the partenopei were expected to make a Scudetto push after consecutive seasons as runners-up. However, nothing of the sort has taken place and Napoli are currently languishing below mid-table and have replaced Ancelotti with Gennaro Gattuso. Here are three things Napoli should consider to get back on track.

1) Squad revolution: Sell, sell, sell! 

Most of the current Napoli side have been with the club for the greater part of the decade, and have experienced incredible highs and lows. For example: Winning 1-0 in a title decider against Juventus away from home, only to lose the following game to Fiorentina and squander their lead at the top. This undoubtedly remains in the psyche of most of their players.

After a rough start to the season, the club’s veterans turned against Ancelotti and demanded change from the upper hierarchy. Moreover, many of their ageing stars on expiring deals are asking for pay-rises due to their past exploits with the club. Exploits they probably won’t be able to recreate, if we’re being honest. Football works in cycles and one thing is clear: This cycle is over for Napoli and it’s time for a rebuild. Sell Insigne, Mertens, Hysaj and anyone in between. Out with the old and in with the new. That sounds equally exciting as it sounds scary.

2) Stick with Gattuso

This may seem like a stretch especially after the rough start to his tenure, losing four of his first five games, but Napoli would be wise to stay with Gattuso. With a full pre-season under his belt and an entire summer to sign players he wants, the former Milan tactician will have the weapons he needs to make a push for the title next season. In addition, most of his current players appear to have their heads elsewhere and could use a move away and start fresh.

While this season won’t amount to much, it will be a good opportunity for Gattuso to acclimate himself to his new surroundings and establish players he can count on. This will undoubtedly come in handy moving into the new season. In his final season at Milan, the World Cup winner almost got the rossoneri into the Champions League with a far worse roster. Given time and a roster upheaval, Gattuso will prove to be a good fit for Napoli.

3) Establish your core. 

Speaking of finding players to count on, Napoli’s top brass should use the rest of the season and evaluate their squad. Who is sellable and who is untouchable? After this year’s shocking performances, you can argue only Meret, Koulibaly, Di Lorenzo and the newcomers are off-limits. The rest should and arguably will be on the market for the right price. Fabian Ruiz, for example, has shown signs of brilliance but doesn’t look as implicated as he could be for the Napoli cause. Reports suggest Barcelona and Real Madrid are keeping tabs on the Spanish international and could present a bid upwards of 50M for the midfielder.

Another player’s future to consider is Lorenzo Insigne. While the diminutive playmaker is one of the last true bandiere in Italy, it may be time for a move away. After all, he did lead the mutiny against Ancelotti and hasn’t exactly performed on the pitch. As a result, the list of sellable players should far exceed the “untouchables.” In any case, Napoli’s season does present a silver lining: A unique opportunity to reboot and start a new cycle. Hopefully, for them, this one will be filled with silverware and that elusive Scudetto.

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Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 20

Thomas Strakosha: the Biancocelesti held up against Napoli’s attack, confirming their solidity at home, and the goalie answered the bell when he was required. It is not a particularly great round for defences on paper, so it is better to stick with safe picks.

Matthijs De Ligt: the injury of Merih Demiral will allow him to return to the XI on a consistent basis and he did look good against Roma and in Coppa Italia. Juventus have allowed nine goals at home (second-best in Serie A), so their defenders can be deployed even though Parma are the quintessential sneaky team. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 20

Lazio-Sampdoria: despite a fairly muted performance, the Biancocelesti came out on top versus Napoli last week, for the second week in a row propelled by a late Ciro Immobile goal. The capocannoniere keeps producing and has already reached the 20-goal threshold. He has scored their last three goals. Joaquin Correa will be limited, so Felipe Caicedo might get another chance to start and he has posted three goals and two assists in limited action in the last five appearances. Luis Alberto will be looking to pad his assist numbers (12), while Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has reverted back to his less efficient self after a hot stretch. Senad Lulic will be suspended, so Jony is set to play on the left wing and he is a willing crosser. The Eagles have been airtight at home. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 19

Cagliari-Milan: the Rossoblù played their worst game of the season against Juventus and will be eager to bounce back here and snap out of a three-game losing streak. Their last two goals were scored by Joao Pedro and Giovanni Simeone and obviously the Brazilian forward, who has tallied 11 in the season, remains their most appealing player, while the ex-Fiorentina man is more inconsistent, but has his moments in the sun. Radja Nainggolan has not been done a lot in the past four games and that has caused a decline in their offensive efficiency. They lack reliable fantasy option behind those because Nahitan Nandez and Marko Rog are not involved in the offense on a regular basis and their yield there is spotty. Their fullbacks, Luca Pellegrini in particular, have picked up few assists. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 18

Brescia-Lazio: it did not take much, but the Rondinelle are playing way better after the return of Eugenio Corini and have rediscovered a pair of weapons that had not produced in the first handful of games, such as Ernesto Torregrossa and Nikolas Spalek. Torregrossa is a more natural fit next to Mario Balotelli and, while not overly prolific, he can hit the net from time to time. The Slovenian no.10 instead had struggled to find his footing in the top league, but he is getting there. His emergence, on top of injuries to other midfielders, pushes Romulo to a less offensive position, where he is not as appealing fantasy-wise. Dimitri Bisoli is also faromg  better lately, while Balotelli has corrected his attitude and found the target twice in the past month and is obviously their featured guy up front. Stefano Sabelli is always very frisky for a right-back. Continue reading

Napoli dismiss Ancelotti and appoint Gattuso

Despite punching their ticket to the next Champions League save with a commanding win over Genk on Wednesday, Napoli have decided to sack Carlo Ancelotti as the team has been in disarray for over two months. They have not won the last seven Serie A rounds and have dropped to seven in the standings, eight points below the top four. The manager had refused to step down immediately following the tilt. Late on Wednesday, they announced the hiring of Gennaro Gattuso on a six-month contract plus an option second season.

Besides some lackadaisical performances of the pitch, which led to disappointing ties with SPAL, Genoa, Milan and Udinese and defeats versus Roma and Bologna, the club has been in turmoil behind the scenes. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 14

Atalanta: Luis Muriel and Hans Hateboer subbed off due to knocks on the knee in Champions League, but there is optimism they will be able to play Saturday. Duvan Zapata flew to Spain for further check-ups on his thigh and will remain sidelined. Rafael Toloi is suspended. Simon Kjaer has been ruled out due to fatigue. 

Bologna: Mattia Destro is improving after his knee problem and could be called up, while Mitchell Dijks (toe) and Roberto Soriano (knee) are having troubles absorbing edemas. The midfielder is actually at risk of missing all the December games. Federico Santander is nursing a thigh strain. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 14

Juventus-Sassuolo: Cristiano Ronaldo came back midweek and now it will be interesting to see whether or not he will be load managed in Serie A player after the knee injury. Nevertheless, Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala have been excellent in relief and have been able to contribute also when coming off the bench in their standard configuration. Douglas Costa got hurt again, which takes away their most explosive option at no.10, so it will Federico Bernardeschi and Aaron Ramsey running the show there for a while, but they both have not done damage in a while. Ramsey has the most upside in the duo. Khedira is fading and, while Rodrigo Bentancur and Blaise Matuidi are serviceable contributors, they are not strong fantasy options. It could be instead the right kind of match-up for Miralem Pjanic to have a meaningful offensive role, while Juan Cuadrado has been a pretty good fullback for a while now. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 13

Atalanta-Juventus: after producing at an historic pace through the first ten weeks, the Goddess failed to score in their last two matches against Sampdoria and Cagliari. Josip Ilicic and Ruslan Malinovskyi are suspended, but the Slovenian attacker has appealed, but they will get a boost from the return of Duvan Zapata, who is expected to feature at least in limited capacity. He notched six goals in seven appearances before getting hurt. Luis Muriel is no longer red-hot, as he has not found the target in the last three rounds, but he will be again their main scoring option from the jump. Alejandro Gomez is going through something similar, but he always has loads of potential as an assist-man. Mario Pasalic is likely to move to the hole and he can pretty sneaky there. Robin Gosens has been their best wing-back so far, but also Timothy Castagne has hit the net once. Continue reading

Serie A Round 12 Fantacalcio Player Trends: Stock Down

With the international break around the corner, most sides are looking to go into it on a positive note. Inter take on a resolute Hellas Verona while Juventus will host a struggling Milan on Sunday. Napoli, a side in revolt against their upper management, will be taking on a Genoa side who have improved from week-to-week under Thiago Motta. Otherwise, the capital sides are in action as Roma take on Parma and Lazio will look to overcome Lecce.

With match-day 12 upon us, here are FIVE players you should consider dropping from your fantacalcio side. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Gianluigi Donnarumma (GK, Milan, Value 12.44) – The Milan goalkeeper has struggled in recent times and has let in a few goals he’d be hoping to have back. Given the uncertainty in front of him, Donnarumma is often left vulnerable by his defence and will continue conceding goals. Despite this, he knows he’ll have to be better, especially with league leaders Juventus coming up this weekend.

For the time being, swap the Italian international out of your side in favour of a low-cost option. At least until the Milan man hits top form again.

Lorenzo Insigne (ATT, Napoli, Value 17.25) – Being referred to as the leader of the ongoing mutiny at Napoli, Lorenzo Insigne has been far from his best this season. With the side refusing to go into a ritiro against the club’s orders, expect Insigne’s play to suffer as a result. That’s if he plays, of course.

Napoli boss Carlo Ancelotti may be looking to make a statement and bench his captain given recent events. Given Arkadiusz Milik’s good form, expect Insigne to register limited minutes for the next few weeks as the situation unfolds further.

Fabian Ruiz (MID, Napoli, Value 14.44) – The Napoli midfielder was expected to take the next step in his career this season, but has struggled with consistency. This season, the partenopei have often lacked balance in the midfield and have left their rearguard exposed due to the lack of a real number six. Whether it’s Piotr Zielinski or Allan alongside Ruiz, it seems they’re an awkward fit and could use a more robust presence.

Despite this, Ruiz has impressed in the final third but can’t convert his positive play into end-product. Currently, he has one goal and two assists and let’s face it, Napoli have come to expect way more from the Spaniard international. Given the ongoing revolution at Napoli, it would be wise to swap Fabian out of your sides, at least until they steady the ship.

Cristiano Ronaldo (ATT, Juventus, Value 18.86) – The Juventus superstar has looked a shade of his former self over the course of the last month and is likely playing with a knock. Uninvolved in the build-up play and one step off in the final third, Ronaldo has had a rough start to the season and has struggled to find the back of the net with regularity. The former Real Madrid man was subbed out against Lokomotiv Moscow most recently indicating he may be injured.

With a clash against Milan on the horizon, Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri may opt to rest Ronaldo in favour of the in-form Gonzalo Higuain. Considering Paulo Dybala and Douglas Costa have both looked dangerous in possession together recently, it’s very possible they all start.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (MID, Lazio, Value 17.25) – Following his breakout season, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has disappointed and has failed to reach his former heights. The Serbian international arguably needs a change of scenery for newfound motivation, but the fact remains that the Lazio man isn’t dictated proceedings as much as he would have liked. One goal and three assists in his ten starts highlight his relatively indifferent form.

Given his increased price-tag, it’s time you get ride of Milinkovic-Savic for the foreseeable future.

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