Serie A: Why Napoli's Incredible Rise Will Continue This Season
Napoli will contend for the Scudetto this season.
Count on it.
Edinson Cavani lead the team to a second-place finish last season, and he did so with a league-high 29 goals, six more than runner-up Antonio Di Natalie of Udinese and a full 13 goals more than the two men who tied for third, Roma's Pablo Osvaldo and AC Milan's Stephan El Shaarawy.
That is in the past.
El Matador will now likely be called Le Matador, as he belongs to super-spenders Paris Saint-Germain.
In La Liga, Higuain started 19 games for Real Madrid last season and had 16 goals. In addition to the Higuain addition, Napoli added Dries Mertens from PSV, Goalkeeper Rafael from Santos, Jose Callejon and Raul Albiol from Real Madrid, and Pepe Reina on a loan from Liverpool.
If that weren't enough, Napoli isn't done yet, as rumors abound about the club's interest in Porto's Jackson Martinez, according to Sky Sports.
Second place was a great finish for the Partenopei last season, but their success was predicated on Cavani's play. From February 2 until March 10, Cavani didn't score a goal. In that stretch, including Europa League games as well as Serie A fixtures, Napoli only won one game, drew four and lost three. They beat Catania, they drew against Lazio, Juventus, Sampdoria and Udinese,and lost to Chievo Verona and both matches against Viktoria Plzen.
This year they have more depth in all positions and will only have more should De Laurentiis make good on his words about adding more players:
Possiamo dire che abbiamo lavorato molto, ma non ci fermeremo qui! Forza Napoli Sempre! #ADL— AurelioDeLaurentiis (@ADeLaurentiis) July 24, 2013
Even if they don't, at this point Napoli has set the table for fan's expectations. Those expectations will be Champions League qualification at the end of the season and giving Juventus a run for their money in the Scudetto race.
If they do add more talent, they could truly win the Scudetto, but that talent had better be more defenders and another striker if Napoli seriously intend to do so.
Martinez could be that other striker, but according to Sky Sport Italia his agent seems to think €40 million will be the number it takes to get Porto to release him, though word is Martinez is willing to go to Napoli, per SkySports. That seems a bit high for a guy entering the prime of his career with only one year's experience with a European club.
According to Calciospot24.it (h/t This Is Anfield), rumors abound that Martin Skrtel could follow former teammate Pepe Reina to Napoli. Regardless of whether there's any merit to the rumor, defensive additions are a must in a league with striker pairings such as Mario Balotelli and Stephan El Shaarawy in Milan and Fernando Llorente and Carlos Tevez at Juventus, and with Fiorentina replacing Stevan Jovetic with Mario Gomez.
If De Laurentiis makes a few more smart moves, this is a club that will not only be a front-runner for the Scudetto, but they will also challenge in Champions League as well.
Either way, it's going to be a great season of calcio.
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