Luciano Spalletti explains how the personalities of Kvicha Kvaratskhelia, Kim Min-jae and Alex Meret influence their performances on the field. ‘Kvara is so shy, but when he plays football he’s so confident.’
The Partenopei had to fight back from a Mattia Zaccagni opener, turning it around through a Kim Min-jae header and Kvaratskhelia rocket into the net to beat Lazio 2-1.
Kvaratskhelia and Victor Osimhen were also kept out by the woodwork and Ivan Provedel made several big saves at the Stadio Olimpico.
“This shows us we are on the right track, that the team is in good shape. Every now and then we lose our way in banal errors, as otherwise we could do even better,” Spalletti told Sky Sport Italia.
“We always pressed and created chances with determination. The problem is we keep losing the ball in situations where a team like ours cannot do that. There are passes that are simply beyond discussion. We can be a bit lazy and arrogant in our passing sometimes and end up giving it away in dangerous situations.”
Kim Min-jae has been a revelation since coming from Fenerbahce, while Georgia international Kvaratskhelia is the bargain of the Serie A season at €10m.
“We have a scouting system, the director of sport and his assistant who go to find out who is available on the market. It’s important to be ready to bring in players capable of replacing those who are taken away.
“When four or five people start watching them, we can reach conclusions over their quality. Kvara had played in Russia, everyone spoke highly of him.
“I realise Napoli are a little unusual in our way of playing football and so coming from another style they could take a while to adapt, but they are exceptional and have settled right in.
“When Kim sang Gangnam Style in his initiation ceremony, you could see what a fun guy he is! I remember the day after in training he was saying to himself in Italian ‘Go. Stop. Run. Go. Stop. Run.’ Over and over again, just to remember them.”
Kvaratskhelia is considerably less outgoing than the South Korea international, but at 21 is a stunning talent.
“I invited him up to my house for a cup of tea on the afternoon he signed the contract. He is able to control any ball and make it clean, he has this very shy way of doing things, he never wants to be the centre of attention, but when he plays football, he is so confident.”
Napoli’s Champions League campaign begins next week against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, who reached the Final last season.
“I hope they can take this experience the right way, with the belief they can fight it out with any opponent and have the same character to play like top players in any arena.”
The summer was dominated by Napoli’s search for a goalkeeper, trying to get Keylor Navas from PSG or Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga, but in the end failed to sign anyone, so Alex Meret and Salvatore Sirigu remain.
“We have the second and third choice goalkeepers of the Italy squad, so couldn’t ask for better. Alex probably just needed some good performances to shake off this shyness. He is such a nice, sensitive boy that it’s not good for him to be under the spotlight like that,” explained Spalletti.
“The transfer market is fortunately over now, he knows that he is first choice. Sirigu is perfect for Meret, because he has great experience and is ready to take over if needed, but also has that character to make his voice heard and that might be good for Alex too.”