In the Summer of 2013 after finishing second in Serie A and their star striker Edinson Cavani winning the capocannoniere, Napoli fans had high hopes for the future. However, in that same summer, the Southern Italian club would end up shipping Cavani to Paris for a hefty 64.5 million euros. It seemed as if the Partenopei were taking a major step back by letting such an elite goal-scorer slip away. This proved to be quite the opposite and would allow the Club to jumpstart a rebuild that would pave the way for their current success.
After Cavani’s departure Napoli would turn towards the proven Argentinian striker Gonzalo Higuaín. Higuain was looking for more regular games and with fellow Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema in the picture, a move from Spain was his only choice. So, Gonzalo Higuain would sign with the Azzurri for a fee of 39 million euros – a move that would be very fortuitous for Napoli in the future.
In that same transfer window, Napoli would sign five of their current starting eleven. Players like Jorginho, Faouzi Ghoulam, José Callejón, Raúl Albiol, and Driers Mertens would only cost a combined sum of 45.5 million euros. The fact Napoli were able to bring the whole lot in for such a low fee is incredible.
The players mentioned above have, for the most part, become some of the best in Serie A and proved their price tag tenfold.
At the time, no one would know how vital this transfer window would be to their current success.Like many of the other players from that transfer window, Higuain would prove to be a great signing, becoming one of the most prominent goal scorers in the Peninsula with a capocannoniere in the 15/16 season after bagging 36 goals.
Napoli fans again were full of hope for next season with such a talented striker goal leading their club. However, like Cavani, their star striker would be sold, to Serie A rivals Juventus no less, for an astronomical fee of 90 million euros. His departure would lead to the rise of forward Dries Mertens who would prove to be among the best attackers Naples has seen in the past decade.
Aside from ‘El Pipita’s’ sale, Napoli would go on to improve their team by adding players like Allan, Elseid Hysaj, who are now regulars in the current starting eleven, along with Marko Rog and Amadou Diawara for the future. Like the players before them, they would quickly become some of the best in their respective positions. This should further highlight the point that president Aurelio de Laurentiis has made the most of their transfers and capitalized when necessary.
It’s rare to see a team improve after selling a league-leading goal scorer (twice) but Napoli clearly has and should be given tremendous credit for it.
Alongside their brilliance in the transfer market, Napoli gained their current success with a fair amount trust. After parting ways with Rafa Benitez, they would entrust their club with Maurizio Sarri, a former banker turned coach who spent most of his career managing smaller Italian clubs before making the move from Empoli to the Campania outfit. This appointment would be the perfect match for Napoli.
Sarri would establish one of the most beautiful and effective styles of play in all of Europe. Aside from the chainsmoking tactician, the club also placed a lot of faith in striker Mertens after Polish international Arkadiusz Milik went out with a serious injury last October. Traditionally a winger, the Belgian thrived in this new role up front in the 4-3-3, and spearheaded an attacking trio that would prove to be the most dangerous in Italy; no one would have predicted his meteoric rise in Serie A at his age.
Also during this time, Naples-born attacker Lorenzo Insigne would emerge as a figurehead of the Club, and one of the most lethal wingers in Italy.
Napoli now sit second in the table after a surging Inter side bumped them down last weekend. With 38 points after 15 matches played, and the rest of the top clubs breathing down their neck, it will be interesting to see how Napoli perform the rest of the season. They currently do appear to be the team to beat this season despite falling to Juventus last weekend, and when looking back at the decisions they’ve made the past few years it’s evident why. Everything Napoli has done the past several seasons has been building towards their present success. From the smart transfers to the trust within the club, Napoli has made great strides over several seasons and could be reaping the benefits come May – if they are able to fend off the others from spoiling the party.