Napoli’s decision to sign Swansea City striker Michu on a season long loan could prove a crucial factor in determining who wins Serie A next season.
The Spaniard, who endured an injury hit campaign last term after a successful debut term in English football, has signed on with last year’s Coppa Italia winners to become the latest addition of the Rafael Benitez era.
He will join the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Dries Mertens and Marek Hamsik in an already star-studded frontline as they bid to wrestle the Scudetto from the tight grips of Massimilano Allegri’s Juventus.
Up until his arrival in Wales the 28-year-old was a relatively unknown talent, but under the stewardship of Michael Laudrup he soon became a household name in England.
He scored 22 times in 43 games in 2012-2013, and helped end the Swans’ agonising wait for silverware by leading them to glory in the Capital One Cup – finding the net in a 5-0 thumping of Bradford.
Injuries and the need to accommodate Ivory Coast striker Wilfried Bony into the side hindered his form in his second season at the Liberty Stadium, but despite scoring just six times in 24 appearances it failed to deter Benitez from landing his man this summer.
Prior to his move to Naples, Michu had been linked with a move to Spain and La Liga with Clasico duo Real Madrid and Barcelona.
However Serie A now lies in wait with the promise of regular football at one of the world’s most promising teams proving an offer too hard to decline.
Benitez showed last summer with the capture of Higuain from Madrid that he was serious about challenging for the title, whilst they intend to strengthen further by completing a deal for Germany’s Christoph Kramer whilst the transfer window remains open.
That Michu will now be competing for the major honours in the game, including the Champions League, highlights the fact that this is the breakthrough move of his career thus far.
Napoli’s reliance on the goals of Higuain too often proved a shortcoming for them last season, meaning their new acquisition will need to produce at times where the Argentine did not.
The 26-year-old too often went missing in the crunch games of the season – compounding with an abject performance in the World Cup final for his country – meaning Michu must find his best form for the blockbuster ties against the likes of Juventus and Roma.
Any recurrence of the injury that blighted his efforts last campaign could see his time in Italy judged as a failure. Returing to Wales after playing at such blockbuster events will prove the biggest stage is beyond him.