Imagining Icardi at the San Paolo may be fanciful, but it highlights a gap that if closed could enable them to challenge Juventus.
This year Napoli may have learned more about themselves, as the other players stepped up to contribute goals and give the team a more rounded feel. Now they need to take they need to take this to the next level.
This weekbc财网’s European nights were fascinating. Against Hapoel Be’er-Sheva Inter were lacklustre, losing 3-2 to the Isrhg008aelis by creating little and managing only nine shots on target. Icardi, perhaps one of Europe’s most lethal strikers, was again under-supplied by the Nerazzurri and yet still got on the scoresheet. Napoli, on the other hand, created 17 clear-cut chances against Dynamo Kiev and with Maurito upfront would have doubtlessly won the game – and their Champions League group, for that matter.
It’s safe to say Arkadiusz Milik was a strong replacement, scoring seven goals in six starts and three substitute appearances. However, let’s not make the mistake of thinking his injury is the sole reason for the current problems in front of goal. Don’t forget that the bid for Inter hitman Icardi took place after the Poland international had already been signed from Ajax. Napoli knew Milik alone was not going to be enough. The torn ACL merely pushed the issue to the forefront earlier.
Admittedly the argument for Icardi playing in Naples is only an example, but if Napoli can invest in another striker even of Milik’s level, then what they could achieve may at last be equivalent of the Diego Maradona era. The team is solid, they can also create, but they need strength in depth.
Football is a game of what if? Cast your mind back and think, what if David Villa had his penalty saved in Euro 2008? Would Gigi Buffon’s stop mean Spain’s world domination would never have happened? What if Roberto Baggio hadn’t put his penalty into the stratosphere against Brazil in the Rose Bowl in 1994? How would he and that Italy team be remembered now? Most of these thoughts are fanciful, but the bid from Napoli for Mauro Icardi in the summer is perhaps this year’s biggest ‘what if’, because right now the Partenopei would arguably be very serious Scudetto contenders.
One could argue that last year the Neapolitans were extremely lucky, as had Higuain been injured for any length of time, would they have been able to challenge as they did? It is unlikely. He created that experiment himself with a ridiculous red card and ban against Udinese.
Speaking speculatively in these terms comes from observation. This is simply that Napoli are struggling to replace the void left by Higuain. It is true that this year they have spread the goals out amongst the team and Marek Hamsik, Jose Callejon, Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne have all contributed, but there is no doubt that they are missing a target man and this has been amplifi博狗网ed since Milik’s injury.
Napoletani don’t want to admit they miss Gonzalo Higuain, preferring to make jokes about his weight, but the fact is he has left a huge hole in the squad – and not just because of his waistline.