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Lorenzo Insigne needs to elevate his play.
Simply put, Lorenzo Insigne needs to play better.
To be fair, Insigne has been playing out of position under Rafael Benitez, but he is more than capable of playing the wing, and his team needs more out of him. His play against Bilbao in the first leg was severely lacking, and he was deservedly replaced by Dries Mertens.
A little more than a week remains in the transfer window, and if Insigne isn't able to help the Partenopei into the group stage he may very well be leaving the San Paolo.
Since the turn of the calendar, Napoli's fans have slowly been turning on Insigne. The 23-year-old is the only native Neapolitan on the club's roster and is often the only Italian in the starting lineup. He was also Napoli's only representative on the Italian national team–and he didn't acquit himself well in Brazil. The fans' perception of his failure has seen the fanbase openly reject him—including booing him off the field at the San Paolo last week.
A report from Radio Crc (via Football Italia) stated that a tearful Insigne begged Benitez to transfer him after the match on Tuesday. The manager turned the request down, giving him his full support for the season. But if Benitez doesn't put him in position to succeed, how long will Insigne be able to stand the abuse?
Inler was a surprise omission to the starting XI on Tuesday, and Napoli missed his passing and defensive presence.
According to WhoScored, Inler completed 86.8 percent of his passes a year ago and added 2.9 tackles and 1.9 interceptions on the other side of the ball. Such passing accuracy was missing in the first half of the first leg, and his defensive presence will help disrupt Bilbao's offensive movement as well.
Also of use would be Inler's cannon of a right foot. His threat from range can stretch the Bilbao defense and allow Benitez's forwards more room to operate.
Sorely lacking until his equalizer, the Argentine striker continued the sluggish form that dogged him at the World Cup.
His goal, however, was a thing of beauty. Receiving a pass from Marek Hamsik, Higuain took the ball out of the air with his first touch, settled with his second and dribbled through two defenders with his third. He then dribbled wide beyond Mikel Balenziaga, fired a shot across the grain and beat Iraizoz with ease.
The score seemed to raise his spirits, and he had a bit more verve from then on out. He's going to have to play at his best to score the goals Napoli need at the San Mames.