Napoli took aggressively to this past transfer window, securing Victor Osimhen for a record fee. The southern-based club was largely expected to challenge for the title this season but has since failed to deliver. While recurring injury problems have undoubtedly played their part, Napoli has simply not been good enough. As their struggles persist, reports suggest Gattuso will not last past this season.
Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis is yet to offer him a contract renewal, highlighting his lack of faith in the World Cup winner. A number of high-profile names have been linked to the Napoli hot-seat, including Massimiliano Allegri, Vincenzo Italiano, Maurizio Sarri, Rafa Benitez, and most recently Luciano Spalletti.
Let’s start with Allegri. Napoli would be lucky to have the former Juventus boss on its touchline, but his arrival remains unlikely. Allegri is reportedly holding out for his next opportunity and has his sights set on a move to England. While he would definitely bring some much-needed stability to Napoli, the chances of him arriving are slim to none.
Beyond Allegri, a sensational reunion with Maurizio Sarri has been reported. As the old Italian saying goes, “la minestra riscaldata non e mai buona.” Reheated soup is never good. The veteran tactician had his shot and brought Napoli as far he could take them. The season he spent in Turin with Juventus will not help his chances either, but as a whole, Napoli should stay away from Sarri. Their side is vastly different from the one he lead and would require a total shift in the way they play.
The same logic applies to Rafa Benitez. The only reason the Spaniard is being linked back with a move to Napoli is due to the familiarity he already has with the club. The former Liverpool boss is not a great fit with the club’s current project and would not be able to deliver the consistency they so desperately crave.
That leaves us with the final two options: Spezia’s Vincenzo Italiano and Luciano Spalletti. In many ways, these are arguably Napoli’s best two options to replace Gattuso. On one hand, Spalletti has a proven track record of results in Italy, most recently delivering Champions League football with Inter. While on the other, Italiano has impressed with Spezia and appears ready to take the next step to a bigger club.
Spalletti definitely offers more guarantees, but Italiano would introduce a fresh style of play, opting for an aggressive pressing system. At the end of the day, the final decision will come down to De Laurentiis. The Napoli president has proven he can swing either way – going with experienced options in the past in Benitez or Ancelotti or going the unproven route by hiring Sarri off the back of his breakout year with Empoli.
An article on Napoli’s managerial situation would not be fair without giving Gattuso a fair shake. Who knows – the Partenopei can still turn their fortunes around, string a positive run of results, and finish the season strongly. Crazier things have happened. Gattuso has already proven he can steady a sinking ship, leading Napoli to a Coppa Italia triumph last season, but appears to be in his final days.
Napoli would be wise to start considering alternatives starting with Spalletti and Italiano. While Benitez and Sarri are both on the table, going back with your ex is seldom a good idea. Let’s face it – neither would be able to lead Napoli to new heights. Elsewhere, securing Allegri would be a masterstroke, but the veteran tactician reportedly sees his future elsewhere.
With just 15 games to go and a big decision looming large, De Laurentiis has a lot to consider. Whether he opts for an experienced bench boss or the new kid on the block remains to be seen, but one thing’s for sure: He is not short on options.
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