After having his last few seasons derailed by inconsistency and injury problems, Lorenzo Insigne must find the promise that led many to proclaim his as the future of the national team, next season or risk falling off the map completely.
When a 20-year-old Lorenzo Insigne led Pescara to promotion alongside Ciro Immobile and Marco Verratti, the hype surrounding the trio kicked into overdrive. Azzurri fans believed that the three young Italians would soon form the backbone of their national team but unfortunately, this would not be the case. Of the three players, only Marco Verratti has lived up to his potential plying his trade for Ligue Un giants, Paris Saint-Germain. Ciro Immobile did have a good season with Torino but then failed to replicate his goal-scoring form at Borussia Dortmund. The German outfit quickly sold him to Sevilla the following season at a fraction of the price they paid for. Lorenzo Insigne, on the other hand, has spent all his career at Napoli but hasn’t really established himself. So far, the player’s been managed by Walter Mazzari, Rafa Benitez and will now play under the guidance of Maurizio Sarri. Under the former Empoli boss, Insigne must find his game or he will risk joining the likes of Raffaele Palladino and Paolo De Ceglie in the pile of players that never quite delivered on their promise. The former Pescara man is no longer the exciting, unknown twenty-year-old from Pescara and it is for this reason that I say that next season is do or die for him.
Name: Lorenzo Insigne
Position: Attacking midfielder
Height: 163 cm
Weight: 59 kg
Insigne’s short career has been a peculiar yet predictable one. After a few impressive performances, the Neapolitan born forward fails to back it up. Due to the inconsistency that has plagued his career, the 24-year-old is yet to become a mainstay with the national team. In his first three seasons with the club, Insigne has scored fourteen goals and registered twenty-four assists in 118, yes, 118 games in all competitions. For a player of his type, his strike-rate is truly appalling. Next season, he will definitely have to find his scoring touch or any sort of touch for that matter. That said, there is some good news. He will be coached by Maurizio Sarri. While it may not sound like much, the Napoli boss is very good with younger players. A lot of his success with them can be attributed to the fact that he is simply obsessed with details. If you don’t believe me, look no further than the drone he has flying over the players at practice in order to pick up on their tendencies. If the drone doesn’t convince you, take a brief look at his tenure with Empoli.
When Empoli gained promotion to Serie A, many expected them to go straight down. Sarri, however, had other ideas and got the most out of almost every player at his disposal. Among those players were various youngsters such as Luigi Sepe, Daniele Rugani and Riccardo Saponara. Under Sarri’s leadership, the players developed into crucial players and attracted interest from Serie A’s top dogs. Rugani joined Juventus, while Sepe and Saponara have been linked with moves to Fiorentina and Napoli, respectively. Given Sarri’s success with younger players and minimal resources, there is no reason that he will not have similar success with Insigne at a much bigger club like Napoli. With the partenopei, he will be coaching Gonzalo Higuain, Manolo Gabbiadini and Marek Hamsik among others. Due to the talent that he will have, I do believe that he will bring out the best of Insigne. Despite two managers failing to do so before him, Sarri has a completely different approach. In a recent press conference, the newly-appointed Napoli boss said that he plans on using him as a trequartista. (#10, behind the strikers) In the past, Insigne has largely played at left midfield where he failed to make his mark. Next season, he will likely be deployed higher up the pitch and for the first time in a while, centrally. This can only bode well for the 24-year-old player moving forward.
By the next European championships, Insigne will be twenty-five years old. He won’t exactly be a talent anymore. If Insigne has aspirations to play for the national team on a regular basis, he will have to take the next step in his career sooner rather than later. The talent is certainly there to accomplish this but it won’t be easy. At least at Napoli, for the first time, he is surrounded by players who are in the same boat as him. Both Jorginho and Manolo Gabbiadini have shown immense promise over the course of their careers but have yet to develop into the players that many projected them to be. While Gabbiadini is very close at achieving this, he is yet another Italian player on the verge of explosion. Earlier in his Napoli career, Insigne has been surrounded with more established players. This can be a blessing and a curse at the same time. Sure, it’s always nice to play with very good players but if you can’t compete at their level regularly, you are simply left in the dust. To be fair to Insigne, it’s quite difficult for a player in his early twenties to play at the same level of players like Edinson Cavani, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Marek Hamsik. Due to the blend of experienced players and talents, Insigne is in a great position to do well next season.
The fact that he will be surrounded with players like him is an underrated aspect. During his loan spell with Pescara, which is widely regarded to be the time where he played his best football, he was playing with players exactly like him. Many of Pescara’s players were young and upcoming talents looking to make a name for themselves. As a result of this, he did not feel the pressure to perform and it showed. At Napoli, however, it is evident that the 24-year-old crumbled under the expectations of a big club. Often times, he is hesitant to try things that he would otherwise normally do. Another team in which Insigne flourished is with the U-21 national team. Once again, this comes as no surprise. That team is literally composed of similar players in and around the same age as each other. Due to this, Insigne can fully express his talent without any problems. At least with Gabbiadini and Jorginho next season, there are players like him to a certain extent.
The importance of next season cannot be understated for Lorenzo Insigne. He’s not so young anymore and Antonio Conte’s Italy are in dire need of some creativity in the attacking third. Should he display the promise from earlier in his career, he should be flying to France with the national team. That said, it won’t be as easy as it sounds. Quite frankly, he hasn’t be any good recently. While long-term injuries have definitely stunted his growth, there is no denying that Insigne is quite overrated. He’s an interesting player, who on his day can change a game. The only issue is that it hasn’t been his day that often. Luckily next year, Insigne will be managed by Sarri, a manager who gets the best out of similar players to him. Moreover, the pressure of performing well will be reduced because now, he is not only aware about the everyday difficulties of performing at a big club but will try to overcome them with players like him. If he fails next season, his demise will be complete and it will be a quite sad one at that because of just how good he can be under the right circumstances. Now with the circumstances in his favor, it’s up to Insigne to perform. No pressure, Lorenzo!