Lorenzo Insigne suffered a nearly season-ending injury on Sunday against Fiorentina after landing awkwardly on his right leg. Scans later showed a torn ACL in the player’s right knee, but thankfully, the club reported the operation was successful (h/t Football Italia).
The injury itself is horrific, and no one can prepare for these tragic occurrences. But what makes matters worse is that Insigne had just gotten into a groove and was enjoying great form for his club—playing well enough to catch Italy coach Antonio Conte’s eye.
Deployed as a left-attacking midfielder for Napoli, Insigne really began demonstrating confidence in his play from the Torino match onward and has put in great performances since. He had reduced Dries Mertens to the bench—only starting Europa League fixtures and making substitution appearances. In Insigne's previous six matches before facing Fiorentina, he averaged 2.83 key passes per game, per WhoScored.com.
The 23-year-old’s hot form coupled with goalscoring machines Jose Callejon and Gonzalo Higuain meant that Napoli were becoming serious contenders for capturing third place—even challenging both Juventus and Roma for top places. Indeed, the club has lost just once in 11 fixtures, again per WhoScored.com.
Now Napoli must make due with their available resources until a proper replacement arrives in January. Having Mertens start in place of Insigne is a no-brainer, but he will need to quickly catch up with the rest of the squad. Some have criticised the Belgian international for not being in sync with his team-mates, although this may be down to lack of minutes played together this campaign.
Other current alternatives include Jonathan de Guzman and Michu. The former has made just a single appearance in a wide role for Napoli but did not stamp his mark and make a huge impact. The latter, on the other hand, is struggling with an ankle injury and certainly does not possess the right characteristics to be flanked out wide.
With Insigne out and limited resources at hand, Napoli cannot afford to start either Mertens or Callejon on the bench. The club will now have to get the most out of these two talents for the remaining 2014 fixtures. This point is especially unfortunate for coach Rafael Benitez, seeing as he no longer has the luxury of attacking options and that his squad was nicely coming to fruition after a rough start to the campaign.
Furthermore, there is no time to waste in finding a replacement, so Riccardo Bigon and Co. have already begun searching for a quality addition to purchase in January.
Gianluca Di Marzio reports a list of names that could end up on Neapolitan shores. It’s understood that the club has to show signs of serious investment in the form of this purchase and not a frugal transfer if Napoli want to finish in Champions League territory.
Some players Napoli are going after include: Paul-Jose M’Poku, Andre Ayew, Ivan Perisic and Davy Klaassen. As Sport Mediaset (h/t Forza Italian Football) reports, Juventus’ Sebastian Giovinco has also been recently linked with the Partenopei.
Whomever the club decides to acquire, the player must immediately demonstrate his worth in the form of goals and assists if Napoli have any chance of maintaining third place or even catching up to Juventus and Roma.