Luciano Spalletti confirms Dries Mertens is back for Napoli against Cagliari and warns the perfect record won’t last. ‘We have to be ready’ for negative moments.
It kicks off on Sunday at 19.45 UK time (18.45 GMT).
The Partenopei are top of the table with a 100 per cent record after five wins out of five, in which they scored 14 goals and conceded only two.
“As I said before the season began, it’s good to be us, but we also know that there will be moments when we won’t get as many points and we need balance when those come along,” said Spalletti in his press conference.
“We’re not hiding from questions about the Scudetto race, but there are seven teams in the running and we’re all on the same level. There will be more negative moments and we have to be ready.”
Cagliari are now coached by Walter Mazzarri, one of the former Napoli tacticians who set a template here, along with Rafa Benitez and Maurizio Sarri.
“It is an honour to be linked with those coaches and everyone contributed over the years to the formation of this squad. A coach has to provide organisation, but working with the characteristics and qualities of his players.
“I know Mazzarri well, the handshake before kick-off is between friends. He knows how to get his teams organised and we saw an idea of what he wants in the draw with Lazio. It will take our best to get the three points and individual moves to break down an organised team that defends in blocks.”
Dries Mertens is back in the squad ahead of schedule after shoulder surgery in July and Spalletti took time to praise his players.
“There’s so much talent in this squad that if you then make them become a team, they are tough to beat. They really want to be a team, to have everyone feel involved. It’s easy to be a coach when you have players like this.
“We have a captain in Lorenzo Insigne who shows every time what it means to be a captain. There’s the commander Kalidou Koulibaly who just has to look at you and you’ll stay in line.”
Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa has made an immediate impact at Napoli and it’s reported they will anticipate the option to buy from Fulham for €15m.
“I didn’t know him when the directors first spoke to me about this player, but that kind of physicality in the tackle is a regular thing in England, it’s less common here. I had a few doubts, but everyone told me good things and he is really a splendid lad, it felt almost like he was returning to Napoli rather than arriving for the first time.
“You can ask him anything and he’ll do it. If he adds in the quality of being more of a box-to-box player, then Fabian Ruiz and the rest of the team can benefit even more.”