When speculation started regarding a potential Rafa Benitez departure from Napoli I couldn't help but breathe a sigh of relief.
I have been following Napoli for the better part of the last decade only to witness their rise from the doldrums of the second Italian league to the top of the mountain eventually stall at the land of the bronze.
From the moment movie mogul Aurelio De Laurentis took over the once heralded and European champion Italian team, he has actually done his best to put together a winning squad. To get the ball rolling De Laurentis brought in Walter Mazzari, a solid coach who is known for being able to rebuild struggling squads.
With the addition of one of my favourite attacking trios to watch of all time in Hamsik, Lavezzi and Cavani, Mazarri and De Laurentis were able to achieve something that Naples fans had not seen since the years of Maradona: Champions League football and an actual shot at winning the Scudetto.
Since then Mazzari has moved on to other rebuilding projects, Lavezzi and Cavani were both sold to the same team for far more than they were worth, a new and very exciting group of attackers have been brought in to score goals and put fans in the stands, while coach Rafa Benitez was selected to guide the group to prominence.
The choice of Benitez was a safe and bland choice to say the least. His years in Liverpool were dull to say the least, his temporary stints with Inter and Chelsea were very underwhelming and his tenure with Napoli has been much the same in my opinion.
The Napoli front office have done a halfway decent job of spending the Cavani and Lavezzi money. Callejon and Higuain were both fine purchases from Real Madrid and both
players have been excellent while they've been at the club.
Insigne and Gabbiadini are bright, young Italian future-stars in the making and Duvan Zapata has been excellent this season with Higuain being on the sideline for a chunk of the campaign. David Lopez has come along nicely and has given Gokhan Inler the midfield help he so desperately needs.
The back line signings have been decent but not fantastic to say the least and goalkeeping is an area that wasn't addressed after the departure of the awesome Pepe Reina.
With the plethora of fantastic attacking players that Napoli boast one would think that they could at least stand a chance of giving Juventus a run for their money and certainly run over the Roman team with an average player age of 35.
Juventus are a better squad all-around but I do think that if Napoli had a less conservative and more attack-minded coach they could shoot it out match after match with any opponent on the field.
Benitez has lived up to his expectations. He has tons of experience at very high levels across Europe and definitely knows what he is doing from a coaching standpoint, but he has ultimately failed to squeeze everything he has out of the squads he is given.
Napoli fans yearn for the days of Maradona. De Laurentis is after the item that drove him
to purchase a B-league squad that had long since left its glory days; the Scudetto.
Reinforcements at the back and an attack-minded coach this off season should put them over the threshold. It will be an announcement that I really hope happens this summer.
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