Over the past two seasons, Serie A side Napoli have been experiencing some of their most successful years since the days of Diego Maradona.
Most of the plaudits for this success have fallen to Uruguayan hotshot Edinson Cavani and Argentine striker Ezequiel Lavezzi, but there is another man whose impact is often overlooked.
Marek Hamsik is an important part of the current Napoli side, and his performances in midfield are thought to have interested Barclays Premier League side Chelsea.
The January transfer window is now open and Hamsik’s agent has been quoted in the press as encouraging a number of the world’s biggest clubs to make an offer for the 24-year-old.
In light of this, GMF will cast an eye over the Slovakia captain to assess his pros and cons and give a verdict over the likelihood and possible success a move to Stamford Bridge would be.
Hamsik is a versatile footballer with has the ability to play effectively in a number of attacking positions.
He has a high level of technical ability and the patience to play a more metronomic deep-lying playmaker role. However, Hamsik’s passing ability means he is most effective when operating higher up the pitch, behind the forwards and supplying chances.
The former Brescia man also has strong dribbling skills and it is not unusual to see him skip past two or three defenders. This ability to beat players means he is comfortable operating in a wider berth.
Chelsea’s current system would be able to accommodate Hamsik in a number of positions and Andre Villas-Boas is reportedly keen to revamp his ageing squad.
Villas-Boas teams traditionally aim to hold a high line and use a high-tempo style to force mistakes out of opponents. This means the most advanced six or seven players must have the ability to capitalise quickly and consistently on attacking situations from all kinds of positions on the pitch.
Hamsik has a good record in and around the penalty area – six goals and six assists in 17 Serie A appearances this year attest to that.
The Slovak has a tendency to waste scoring opportunities or choose the incorrect pass at times. He often frustrates Napoli fans with sloppy play, especially when he could just as likely produce a moment of sublime skill.
Wastefulness of this kind does not sit well with ‘AVB’, who relies on his players to be able to perform consistently at a very high pace.
Hamsik’s style is usually thought to be more suited to the slower paced style of play found on the continent.
This has led questions over his ability to adapt to the helter-skelter nature of the Premier League in England.
There is the other inevitable doubt that hangs over players coming to England from Europe – can they handle the physical nature.
While this question is often posed without thinking, it is a quite legitimate concern in the case of Hamsik. The former Slovan Bratislava player is not an overtly physical player and is uncomfortable when posed with a defender who deploys brawn in their bids to stop him.
At Napoli the swashbuckling Cavani is more suited to this and of challenge and when he leads the line it allows Hamsik to avoid these clashes. Midfield clashes in Serie A are not traditionally as power orientated as in the Premier League, where Hamsik would not be able to avoid a physical match-up.
There are doubts over whether the Slovakian international could adapt to life in the Barclays Premier League and the physical challenges it poses.
Although, this is a player who moved from Slovakia to Italy as a 17-year-old and has since become one of the most sought-after players in Europe. This shows immense mental strength and it would be no surprise should he come to thrive in England
The biggest obstacle to any transfer is that Napoli are keen to improve Hamsik’s contract and the player has expressed his contentedness with the situation in Naples.
However, whenever contract negotiations come about agents will use the interest of big clubs to push up the salary offers.
There is no reason to dismiss the suggestion that Hamsik would be open to a lucrative move to Chelsea, or another European giant, should the offer come in.