Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has confirmed Roberto Inglese will join the club early next month from Chievo to help bolster the attack for the second half of the season, but what sort of impact can we expect from the Italian?
After a 2016-17 season in which he scored 12 goals in 37 appearances across all competitions for Chievo, the Partenopei struck a deal for 26-year old Roberto Inglese last summer worth a reported 12 million euros.
Of course, with Polish striker Arkadiusz Milik returning to the fray after spending the bulk of the campaign on the shelf with an ACL tear, and Belgian star Dries Mertens spearheading Maurizio Sarri’s lethal attack, an agreement was reached for the betterment of the Italian’s growth to keep him on loan in Verona for an additional term. However, things have certainly changed with the landscape of Napoli’s side since striking that deal in August, and a care package is needed.
Napoli entered the 2017-18 Serie A season with an ambitious goal of winning the Scudetto, and had gotten off to a roaring start, winning 12 of their first 14 matches this season to go atop the table in impressive fashion. However, recently, they’ve slipped into second behind a resurgent Inter side who look as strong as we have seen in recent memory. Along with crashing out of the Champions League group stage and trying to cope without star fullback Faouzi Ghoulam, Napoli have begun taking the necessary precautions to ensure the league title doesn’t escape their cross-hairs.
Earlier this week, president Aurelio De Laurentiis confirmed that the club will receive necessary reinforcement in January with the return of Milik from injury, but also Inglese who will move six months early. Obviously, Napoli’s attack is amongst the best in the Italian top-flight, and certainly boasts plenty of difference makers up front.
Along with Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne and Jose Callejon remain Sarri’s unanimous favourites from here on out, but squad depth like Inglese will be of paramount performance in lasting until the very end of the Scudetto race. So, you are probably asking: what will Inglese bring to Naples? Let’s take a look.
Aside from depth and a familiarity with playing in Italy, Inglese’s arrival gives Napoli a bit of a different profile up front to work with.
Napoli employ a very direct, fast paced style of football that is easy on the eyes, and when running smoothly, is as attractive as any brand in Europe. However, as we’ve seen from them in the Champions League and on occasion in league play, they sometimes suffer from a lack of plan B. Shaking things up and keeping the opposition honest with possible tactical adjustments is a necessary quality nearly all champions must have.
Inglese brings a strong presence in the air and the ability to find the back of the net with either foot. Though what makes Napoli so special is their quickness and fluidity in the build-up, having an individual like the Azzurri man who can hold up play and create opportunity for wide players to spring forward is an appealing dimension to add if you are Sarri.
There was hope in last January’s addition of Leonardo Pavoletti fulfilling this assignment, but for whatever reason, Sarri limited his play and we weren’t able to get a glimpse of what having a pure nine could do in this system. With Inglese, we get that chance.
On the season, Inglese’s provided a sneaky good six goals and two assists in 15 league matches. His premature move to Naples won’t exactly turn heads next month, nor will it be the deal that puts them over the edge in the hunt for Serie A supremacy as it’s clear fullback help is priority number one. But, what it does provide Sarri is a different option off the bench that can be utilised in any of the three competitions that fill Napoli’s calendar in 2018.
Keeping players in tip-top shape, fresh and able to last until the very end is what supporters hope will be the difference in a silverware-collecting season, and Napoli are calling on “Bobby English” to aid in that effort.