Spalletti knows what it takes to make Napoli fans fall in love again. He already succeeded last year, when he arrived in a depressed square – Champions failed on the last day – and rekindled it, more than with the slogan “you must not give up”, with eight consecutive victories, only to be struck by disappointment of the environment for the third place. The lens had been focused so why those long faces? And then the hope of fighting for the Scudetto was once again wrecked in those 270 minutes and it was a heavy blow for the fans who had dreamed – encouraged by the results – to play until the end with Milan and Inter.
On Naples there is a cloud of pessimism after the departures of four big names (Ospina, Koulibaly, Insigne and Mertens) pending the probable sale of Fabian to PSG. Yet, De Laurentiis was not stopped. If you calculate the millions spent on Anguissa’s ransom and reinforcements, you get to about seventy million. It was only one free agent, the 35-year-old panchinarigu, who will see the game from Verona because Spalletti is oriented to fielding Meret. The ballet on the goalkeeper showed little clarity on the part of the club. Sirigu could be registered two months ago, waiting to define the arrival (on loan) of one of his more titled and highest paid colleague. Meret was disheartened and changed the air, yet he is still here, owner in the first 90 ‘of a championship for everyone, not only for the Napoli complex that wants to renew its structure: the interruption for the World Cup almost two months long what effects it will cause ?
The field is the supreme judge for how much the departures weigh and how well the purchases will have been successful. Kvaratskhelia was very much liked in the pre-season, the other foreigners are to be verified while one certainty is Simeone, who scored 70 goals in Italy, three of which put an end to Sarri’s Napoli scudetto dream four years ago. Cholito will not be in Verona today, to challenge the team he left three days ago, because he must find the best condition. He arrives as Osimhen’s deputy, to understand if Spalletti can make them coexist. It starts with the 4-3-3, variable with the passage to 4-2-3-1 if the Raspadori deal is concluded. Sassuolo is pulling more and more the rope, De Laurentiis and his coach would not want to break it because they know how much this talent is worth and what room for growth it has. Osimhen – the only big man who has remained in his place – is entrusted with the task of becoming the driver of the team, after two years in which he was affected by injuries. Leadership is built over time, as happened with Koulibaly and Mertens. That time (and that patience) that Spalletti asks for the new players to be included and Napoli ’22 -’23 to grow.
The coach did not talk about the championship – contrary to what his president did at the end of May – and declared that it will be a tough fight for the place in the Champions League, widening the contest to Lazio and Rome. His renunciation of the emphasis that had accompanied the path of the Azzurri up to the three matches in April in which only one point was won was appropriate. What is most striking about the new Napoli, waiting to see him on the pitch, is the tone of the declarations of those who have been part of this group, starting with captain Di Lorenzo, and of those who have just arrived there. There is enthusiasm and determination, as well as the conviction of being able to achieve the same goals as a year ago. No one who has complained about those departures, however, is an aspiration for greater earnings. Pride is the spring that must be triggered immediately, in the first trip to Verona, because then the hardest ones will come on the fields of Fiorentina and Lazio. The results, as happened a year ago, can reopen the channel with fans who have experienced the epilogue of the last two seasons as a torment. Few thousand season tickets sold, given that it clashes for example with the 18 thousand of Genoa relegated to Serie B. But the Neapolitans will never be opponents of Napoli: the Azzurri will already cross many, and fierce, in the craziest league in history.