Manolo Gabbiadini’s time at Napoli has finally come to an end. @danielrusso55 takes a look at just why the promising Italian attacker has had such a rough time in Naples.
First off, it must be said that Manolo Gabbiadini is a really talented player. If he was not, we wouldn’t be having this debate on why he did not work out. The point is, his failure to perform at a consistent enough level stems from the system he has been forced into, not talent.
In January of 2015, Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis brought in a player whom at the time was 23-years-of-age and had a great record of goals and assists for Massimo Ferrero’s Sampdoria. He was brought in to bring depth and versatility to the Napoli attack, something the partenopei have lacked in the years prior to his purchase.
At the time of Gabbiadini’s purchase, Rafa Benitez was still at the helm and he ran a 4-2-3-1 formation with his squad. Luckily, Gabbiadini fit right in at either the trequartista or right midfield roles. Manolo did not start/ feature all the time, but when he did he was very effective. He even amassed a very impressive 8 goals and 1 assist in half a season with 857 minutes played (as per whoscored.com). Napoli seemed to have a gem on their hands. However, Benitez’s time was up at the Stadio San Paolo and former Empoli manager, Maurizio Sarri, was brought in. Then, everything changed for Gabbiadini.
This is not a question of mismanagement on the part of Maurizio Sarri. It is more along the lines that Gabbiadini simply did not fit into the Mister’s system. Actually, Manolo Gabbiadini could very well have fit into Sarri’s scheme where in the beginning of his tenure, he would use the 4-3-1-2 formation, which allowed Gabbiadini a strike partner. Gabbiadini showed he was adept to that system when he started off the season with 2 assists in as many games. But a poor run of results and a talking-to from De Laurentiis forced Sarri to switch his mould into the 4-3-3, which ultimately saved his job.
Henceforth, Gabbiadini was stuck in a formation where he had to either play as a Center Forward (Hint: He isn’t one), or play as a Right Winger. Right winger would have suited the Italian International much more however, Sarri was enchanted by Jose Maria Callejon’s work ethic down the right flank, and thus effectively had similar expectations out of Manolo, who does not naturally track back. Naturally, under Benitez, the Right Midfield role suited Manolo more because he had little to no defensive duty due to the double-pivot in the midfield utilized by the Spanish tactician.
So what now for Gabbiadini?
Just yesterday, English Premier League side Southampton FC, have confirmed the signing of Manolo Gabbiadini from Napoli on a permanent deal worth €17m down + a further €3m in bonuses. It seems as though Gabbiadini was left with a good impression of the club from former Nazionale and Southampton player, Graziano Pellè.
There, Gabbiadini will most likely have a starting role, a perfect opportunity to show the world his true talent in arguably the World’s most popular league. This is the chance of a lifetime for Gabbiadini to show that he isn’t a ‘potential’ talent anymore, but rather a ‘finished product’.
Manolo Gabbiadini will be playing at a club who currently sit 12th in the English Premier League and who have had a recent history of signing Italian forwards: Dani Osvaldo and Graziano Pellè. All Italian National Team fans will want to see the former Napoli, Sampdoria and Bologna forward succeed due to the lack of depth up front for the Azzurri.
All in all, I think all fans of both the Azzurri and the Partenopei can agree that Gabbiadini has undeniable talent, and more so, untapped potential. If Manolo can find himself a manager who can instill genuine faith and support in him at Southampton, the ex-Napoli player can have a really great time at Saint Mary’s.