After an unforgettable season down in Naples, with many club records being broken, a second place finish all wrapped up and a certain Argentine that just cannot stop scoring, there is only one man Napoli fans can thank, and it is Mr. Aurelio De Laurentiis.
After all the stick he put up with during all of last season and through the summer mercato for “not investing enough” on the squad, Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis can only be praised for what his Napoli have achieved this season.
The Rising Action:
The domino affect that set off this season’s incredible performance from Napoli all started after that heartbreaking day at the Stadio San Paolo that resulted in a 4-2 defeat to Lazio, which meant Napoli would not have the chance to play Champions League football in the 2015-2016 season. It was evident that this Napoli was not going to improve under Rafa Benitez, change was needed. De Laurentiis did just that, and he did it by committing the steal of the century, by locking up Maurizio Sarri as new head coach.
Shortly after being dubbed by Milan president Silvio Berlusconi as “not big enough to coach the club”, Maurizio Sarri began his match made in heaven with the Napoli players and fans. It took cojones to sign a manager like Sarri to succeed a man as decorated as Rafa Benitez, but De Laurentiis did it anyway. No one could have ever fathomed that Sarri and Napoli would have gone together like peas in a pod, but De Laurentiis knew, he knew the second Benitez announced his resignation.
The film director then went on to add one of the signings of the summer, the Brazilian midfield workhorse Allan. This was another way in which his direction of his Napoli took another positive step. After Allan being the only signing of great potential last summer, many fans expected the same Napoli that featured with Benitez, oh how naive they were. Neapolitans are a tough crowd, they expect their team to win week in week out. Winning so much was made possible by a man that was already on the squad.
Of course that man was Gonzalo Higuain, one of the candidates to join the club of players “most improved under Sarri”, A club that mainly features Kalidou Koulibaly, Jorginho and Lorenzo Insigne. Gonzalo brought his game to a completely different level, better yet, a completely different planet. The planet that Messi, Suarez, Neymar and Ronaldo reside on. That’s just how good he was, and it all started with De Laurentiis and his master plan.
If it weren’t for him, the match made in heaven of Sarri-Higuain wouldn’t have occurred. The 8 game winning streak (club record) would not have occurred, the record point total (82 points, club record) would not have occurred, the record goal total (106 goals in a single season, club record) would not have occurred, and ultimately the Serie A record for goals scored in a season set by Il Pipita Higuain (36 goals in 35 appearances) would not have occurred.
The Ultimate Climax to ADL’s brilliantly directed movie:
The moment all Napoli fans were waiting for, the chance to see their team clinch a spot in next season’s UCL. After the heartbreak from the last two seasons at the hands of Athletic Bilbao and Lazio, Napoli could finally wash away that burden they held. They could finally put joy back into the hearts of their faithful. On Saturday May 14, 2016, they did just that.
After a rather frustrating first half, Hamsik finally broke the deadlock and Napoli were sent flying into the dressing room at half-time. All they needed was to hold onto the lead to clinch a UCL berth, but wait, there was still something massively important to play for.
Going into the match with 33 goals on the season, pipita needed a hattrick to beat Gunnar Nordahl’s record set in 1950 for most goals in a Serie A season. Higuain did just that in the second half, and what a stunner his record breaking goal was, a bicycle kick that looped over Frosinone ‘keeper Zappino that would make even Pele proud. Gonzalo Higuain not only broke the record for goals in a single season, he set the benchmark for strikers in the Serie A for years to come. Now instead of saying “I want to be like Nordahl”, every striker will say, “I want to be like Higuain”.
This season will go down in history in Naples and will be very hard for them to better next season. However, when you have Aurelio De Laurentiis, you can never count yourself out. Expect Napoli to be a protagonist in this summer’s edition of the transfer market. Expect them to make a couple of key signings that can really push them to dethrone Juventus at the top of the Serie A table. Finally, expect De Laurentiis to start directing another movie to add to his collection of movies he’s already published so far in his career. I’d expect this movie to be called somewhere along the lines of, “Il Mio Grande Napoli” (My Great Napoli).