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Napoli Have Lost Their Manager And Star Player But Look Stronger Than Ever In The Scudetto Race

Sunday 15th September 2013
When you think of clubs that find themselves in the unfortunate scenario that Napoli did this summer, with huge changes on and off the pitch, it can spell only one word: Crisis.The myth of the selling club, and who is or isn't one, is a little bit ludicrous. The truth is, every single club in the world is a "selling club". The thing that determines who gets that reputation is how the team deals with the sales of one or two of their best players. Napoli for example, despite losing Ezequiel Levezzi and Edinson Cavani to Paris St Germain the past two summers, have used the money to make themselves a stronger team as a whole.

In my first piece, I spoke in very little detail of Napoli's credentials, but they have a lot to offer this season and are to be taken very seriously.

Having seen a huge sum of £55million arriving for Cavani this summer, new boss Rafa Benitez went about strengthening the squad in the best possible way thanks to the backing of chief Aurelio De Laurentis.

Benitez, who replaced Walter Mazzarri at the end of last season, is on a mission to repair his poor reputation in Italy after a disastrous spell at Mazzarri's new club Inter. Bringing in the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Jose Maria Callejon and Raul Albiol will go a long way to helping Rafa prove himself in Serie A once again.

The former Real Madrid trio struggled to show the Santiago Bernabeu exactly what they can do on a regular basis, and while they may not have been a success at the biggest club in world football, they certainly have what it takes to get Napoli firing.

In fairness to Higuain, I may be being a little harsh. Despite never being the main man, he scored a lot of crucial goals in Spain. His £34.5million price tag shows he has the ability to play at the highest level.

If you add all the new players, and the factor of the new world class manager, to what is already at the San Paolo, you see why Napoli can really threaten both domestically and in Europe too. Lorenzo Insigne is one of the most talented young players in Europe. The 22-year-old Italian really impressed me during the summer, both at the U21 European Championships and at the Emirates Cup last month. All of the new signings are great, but Insigne could hold the key to success.

A couple of seasons ago, as they terrorised defences in the Champions League, it was argued that Partenopei had the best strike force in the game at the time in Cavani, Levezzi and Marek Hamsik. As I've mentioned, only one of that trio remains at the club, but Hamsik has ability in abundance, with many saying his exit is not to far away. However, people have been saying that for two years now, and anyway, even if he was to leave, you wouldn't put it past Napoli to be stronger for losing him.

I don't think the club have brought in anyone to the level of either of the big names they have lost recently, but that would be a near impossible task. They have, in my opinion anyway, always had issues defensively and in other areas of the pitch, particularly when Cavani and Lavezzi were both together at the club. These are problems they have been able to rectify with their spending.

Two seasons ago, despite their European exploits, beating both Manchester City and Chelsea at home, they missed out on Champions League qualification for last season, finishing fifth in 2011/12.

Last season's second place finish was a huge improvement, and they can certainly challenge to go one step further this time around.

With a Champions League group that also includes Arsenal, Marseille and Borussia Dortmund, they are probably in the toughest of the lot, but are more than capable of progressing. While in Serie A, they have made a perfect start, with six points from two games.

It may all go wrong, Rafa has work to do to restore his reputation, the players have work to do to fill the void left by big name departures but most of all, the rest of Serie A has work to do to contain this new and improved Napoli.
Harry De Cosemo
19 years old, Newcastle season ticket holder. European football enthusiast and aspiring football writer. Currently doing a Journalism degree at Teesside University. You can follow me on Twitter: @harrydecosemo

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