25 September 2015
Traditionally an attack-minded outfit, from the glory years of Diego Maradona through to recent times spearheaded by talented strikers, such as Edinson Cavani and currently Gonzalo Higuain, Napoli are unlikely to change their ways in 2015/16 with the forward-thinking Maurizio Sarri at the helm.
Whilst the former Empoli manager has reinforced the squad in several areas, bolstering the midfield with summer signings Allan and Mirko Valdifiori and likewise the defence with new recruits Vlad Chiriches and Elseid Hysaj, it is in the final third that the Partonopei remain particularly strong once again and so Juventus.com focuses on three key players who contribute predominantly to the side’s attacking output.
Marek Hamsik, 28, Midfielder
Marek Hamsik has been an ever-present in Napoli’s starting line-up since signing as a 20-year-old in 2007 after spending three seasons with Brescia.
The Slovakian has excelled in a number of positions for the Partonopei, varying from central midfield, trequartista and even in a front three, where he was deployed alongside former team-mates Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani under Walter Mazzari’s stewardship.
His versatility and strength in many areas have aided his longevity with the side, regardless of changes in manager or formation, and he has been a consistent scorer of goals (92) and provider of assists (82) during his eight years in Naples.
Captaining both club and country, the ex-Slovan Bratislava man has started the current campaign strongly, netting Napoli’s first goal of 2015/16 in the reverse to Sassuolo.
More telling, however, are his overall contributions from central midfield, where he performs a busy box-to-box role for Maurizio Sarri’s outfit.
Clearly the go-to man in building Napoli’s forward forays, Hamsik has made more passes than any of his team-mates so far this season (370), of which 272 were made in the opposition half.
Gonzalo Higuain, 27, Striker
Gonzalo Higuain has started this season in explosive fashion, notching four goals in Napoli’s first five Serie A fixtures and he sits in joint-second place in the current domestic rankings, two behind Sampdoria’s Eder.
The Argentine is a world-class operator in the final third and the statistics back up this argument, since he has scored approximately a goal every two games wherever he has played, whether that be for the Partonopei (57 in 110 appearances), former side Real Madrid (122 in 264 games) and for the Albiceleste (25 in 51 caps). Even as a teenager, he bagged 7 in 18 encounters for River Plate.
The 27-year-old boasts a strong physique, is perfectly capable of muscling past defenders and has performed very well as the central striker in a front three, linking up well with the likes of José Callejon, Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne in the wide forward positions.
However, the fact that Higuain also played on the right of Real Madrid’s three-pronged attack alongside Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo has made him a well-rounded player, who also provides his fair share of assists – a total of 80 since arriving in Europe with the Galacticos nine years ago.
Lorenzo Insigne, 24, Winger
Lorenzo Insigne has been one of Napoli’s outstanding performers of the early stages of this season, scoring two goals and setting up the aforementioned Higuain in a 2-2 draw against Sampdoria.
After missing 27 matches last year due to cruciate knee ligament damage, the Neapolitan has made a strong recovery and his return to full fitness ensures stiff competition for places in wide forward positions, with José Callejon, Dries Mertens and Manolo Gabbiadini all fighting for a starting berth.
So far, however, Insigne has been the pick of the bunch, with the 27-year-old currently the joint-second-highest creator of goalscoring opportunities in Serie A this year, while he has contributed to the most amount of shots (45) in the league so far.
Insigne will hope that his rich vein of form can put him back in contention for a role in the national side, with whom he made his debut just over three years ago against Malta, as he looks to put his long-term injury well and truly behind him.