In 1984, Napoli broke the transfer record for Diego Maradona by paying 12 million euros for his acquisition from Barcelona. This transfer changed the teams fortunes for the next 6 years. In 1986 they won the Italian double, in 1989 they won the UEFA Cup and once again in 1990 they won the Scudetto (Serie A title). This has been Napoli’s most successful period to this day, however they are on the edge of pushing for the Scudetto once again while also having the team and capabilities to win a European trophy. The summer signings the team have made this summer as well as the introduction of Carlo Ancelotti as manager last year has set the team to progress in the right direction.
This summer, Napoli spent 56.20 million euros on players who can have an effective impact on the team. In Hirving Lozano they have acquired a player who is very quick and can play on the opposite side to Lorenzo Insigne and to fill in a spot that was perviosuly used by Jose Callejon, and he can be a adaquete replacement for Callejon as he ages. They also acquired Kostas Manolas from Roma for £32.4 million, this means they have managed to buy a player who will finally fit next to Kalidou Koulibaly. This means they have 2 very quick and strong cente-backs making it very difficult for teams to break them down. A player that is more for the future if Eljiif Elmas who was signed from Fenerbache for £14.4 million, he is a centre-midifelder, and can be used as a more attacking option and can play with Fabian Ruiz if needed. Their acquistions have helped to strengthen a team that has already finished 2nd in Serie A consequtively. Their main players in the previous years have been Dries Mertens and Kalidou Koulibaly, but a player that came into his own under Mauricio Sarri is Allan. Allan was adapted to become a dynamic midfielder to let Fabian Ruiz play freely, while Marek Hamsik worked on the other side. This has prompted Allan to become a key part of the Napoli team defensively to aid Koulibaly and Manolas in the centre of the pitch.
Under Carlo Ancelotti, Napoli have a world class manager who has won the Champions League 3 times, the Serie A and the Premier League in his time as manager of several teams such as Chelsea, AC Milan and Real Madrid. They have now adopted a new style of play from Sarriball. Under Mauricio Sarri, Napoli focused on a style of play which was based around possession known as Sarriball. The possession based style starts from the back with the goalkeeper being the start of it. The centre-backs will move wide and allow the defensive midfielder in Allan to recieve the ball. Allan would then play the ball to either Lorezno Insigne or Jose Callejon and then they would work quickly to break fast and use the pace of their front 3. While defending Sarri focused on pressing in a fixed shape. The press would normally occur in a 4-1-4-1 formation with Mertens or Milik leading the press, with Allan playing between the lines. They would then set the team up to pass the ball regualrly and then they would try and force them to turn the ball over. Whereas, under Ancelotti while attacking he prefers to play a 4-3-3 formation, while then in defence they play more of a 4-4-2. But more recently Napoli have been varying their formations with a 4-5-1 and 4-4-1-1 as well as the 4-3-3. Defensively, the Napoli team will use one player to man mark one of the players that are closests to the ball while another will act as a more defensive player. As well as this Ancelotti wants his team to press high up the pitch as well. When attacking, one of the full backs will push higher up than the other, with Mario Rui being the likely one, this then means the opposite full back will move centrally to form a back three with Manolas and Koulibaly either Malcut or Di Lorenzo. They then aim to overload a flank if they are unable to counter quickly. This means that the foward will move over to the flank they want to overload, along with the midfielders and the number 10.
The players that have shone for Napoli over the past few seasons have been Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne in the attacking area, and Kalidou Koulibaly in the defensive area. Last season Dries Mertens proved a crucial attacking threat for Napoli with a combined 16 goals and 10 assists last season along with the 10 goals and 5 assists of Insigne they have lead the line for Napoli for a while now, and they are both 32 and 28, so Napoli showed that they have begun the planning for replacements with the signing of Hirving Lozano from PSV as well as Arkadiusz Milik , who signed in 2016, who is proving to be a very good main stiker for Napoli with his 17 goals last season showing what he can do after his knee injury which kept him out for the whole 17/18 season as well as the cruciate Ligament injury which kept him out for 5 months in the 16/17 season. So once Napoli lose the exploit of Mertens as he begins to decline, Milik will be a good successor to him for Napoli.
Due to the Napoli’s previous finishes in Serie A with two consecutive 2nd place finishes, Napoli are unlikely to win the title this year due to the added presence of Inter Milan in Serie A, but next season I believe it is possible for Napoli to finally win another piece of silverware, which would be their first silverware since Maradona was at the club, and with Dries Mertens overtaking Maradona in Napoli’s goalscoring records, along with the addition of Hirivng Lozarno as well as one of the best centre-back partnerships in the world, they clearly have the fire power to lead them to the top. If they are to compete in the Europe, the Europa League is currently the best option for Napoli as the Champions League still contains very strong teams which will have a hard time beating them.
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