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Monday August 4 2014
Napoli must better Behrami

With Valon Behrami sold to Hamburg, Steve Mitchell assesses the importance of Napoli signing an adequate replacement.

With a vital Champions League qualifier on the horizon, Napoli Coach Rafa Benitez still has a gaping hole in the centre of his midfield after Valon Behrami was sold to Hamburg last week.  Various high profile names have been linked with a move to the Vesuviani, but as the team returned home last week in readiness for the visit of PAOK Salonika in a friendly at the San Paolo, many tifosi seem worried that the club has been a little premature in selling one of its prized assets. The simple fact is Gokhan Inler as the Vesuviani’s other combative Swiss central midfielder now needs a wing man, and quick.

One continued possibility to be re-united with his old boss is Liverpool’s Lucas Leiva. The 27-year-old Brazilian now looks surplus to requirements at Anfield as club captain Steven Gerrard takes up a more defensive role and Benitez has made no secret of the fact that he would love to have the former Gremio star in his team for next season. Under the Spaniard’s tutelage, Leiva was outstanding in the Premier League and it seems the respect remains mutual between the two, in the hope of a potential move to Serie A.

Another man at the top of the Spaniard’s shopping list is German World Cup winner Christoph Kramer. The 6’3” powerhouse has had a rapid rise to fame culminating with summer glory in Brazil, but at present his future looks to be very much in the Bundesliga.

The big Napoli story to hit the headlines in recent days has been the possible signing of want-away Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini.  President Aurelio De Laurentiis was quick to deflect any immediate debate away from a possible move and more towards the Belgium international’s hairstyle, but over the weekend reports suggest the deal could now go ahead.

Whatever the reasons behind his decision to leave and there have been several reports of a falling out with his manager, the loss of Behrami has come at a critical time in the club’s pre-season preparations. The 29-year-old’s struggles with form and fitness last term was felt in the team. But, in the Champions League he was outstanding, notably in providing the dirty work to allow the likes of Dries Mertens and Jose Callejon the opportunity to display their abundant array of skills in the final third of the field. 

Whoever does come into the squad for the coming season has some big shoes to fill. Many fans of the Partenopei will hope that Benitez does not regret the decision to offload a player of the highest quality before ensuring his replacement’s capture first.

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Have your say...
Napoli need technical quality there as well as defensive mindset. Inler and Behrami put stress on the CB Albiol and Fede last year and their defensive frailness was in part due to inler and behrami. Jorginho is the man for me. He defends and has very good technical ability. Fellaini would add more height and power, and again, a technical player. That extra quality in midfield, if it arrives allows max. flexibility re. formation.
on the 5th August, 2014 at 8:42am
I agree Dario. Why not just keep Gargano. I thought he did great when he did play there. He did good at Parma last season. Maybe it is a problem with the fans.
on the 4th August, 2014 at 7:21pm
Behrami was immense in his first season at Napoli but his form dipped last season
nevertheless he always gave his all when on the field & never had a disappointing performance
but have to agree he is a bit one-dimensional
Rafa's system requires flexible CMs capable of being a dam & starting attacks from the back
Wish him luck for the future..
on the 4th August, 2014 at 6:20pm
They could keep Gargano if the fans will accept him and he's better than Behrami so no need to splash out at all!
on the 4th August, 2014 at 6:01pm
I don't think any of the talked about players are the type of replacement needed. Fellaini was good at Everton but not energetic enough in the mould of Behrami. Napoli need a player of Behrami's energy, but better quality once in possession. Easier said than done but i'm sure if they scouted around they could find a Vidal-esque player waiting to explode.
on the 4th August, 2014 at 4:42pm
They'll need 2 midfielders anyway, especially if Dzemaili goes too.

Fellaini is pretty good going forward, but I can't see him working out as one of the two defensive duo.

Napoli have been quite so far and that's a pity because like Juve, they are not too far from being a QF/SF CL team.
on the 4th August, 2014 at 1:07pm

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