By 90Min
July 07, 2019

It was business as usual at the Stadio San Paolo last season. There were some concerns that Carlo Ancelotti wouldn't be able to replicate the form that Maurzio Sarri had at Napoli, but his side easily finished second without troubling their rivals up in Turin too much.

It's been a successful transfer window for I Partenopei so far, thanks to the arrival of one man - Kostas Manolas. If Juventus had signed Manolas, no eyebrows would be raised. But Napoli signing Manolas from Roma, a club that is arguably their equal, is a statement of intent. The defensive pairing of Manolas and Kalidou Koulibaly is enough to send shivers down the spine of attackers. 

This probably won't be enough to secure them the Scudetto that has eluded them for so long, however. With this in mind, here is a list of positions Napoli must strengthen if they are to compete for the title next season. 


A Quality First-Choice Goalkeeper

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No less than three goalkeepers shared the number one duties at the Stadio San Paolo last season, with youngster Alex Meret balancing the role with David Ospina and Orestis Karnezis. 

While Meret is clearly a player Napoli have marked for the future, he isn't yet good enough to be part of a Scudetto-winning side, while Ospina and Karnezis aren't good enough to occupy the space in the short-term. 

The remedy for this? An experienced, Champions League quality goalkeeper who Napoli can get on loan. Juventus' Mattia Perin, who is likely to become the third choice after the return of Gianluigi Buffon, would be the ideal option, but Juventus would never loan him to their nearest rivals.

Other options could be Torino's Salvatore Sirigu or Paris Saint-Germain's Kevin Trapp, who are both experienced and quality goalkeepers with a lot of experience in Europe. 


Depth in Central Defence

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While the defensive pairing of Koulibaly and Manolas is gonna be the stuff of nightmares for attackers next season, Napoli still lack depth in central defence, especially considering I Partenopei have to compete in three competitions next season. 


Torino's Armando Izzo could be an option for the Neapolitan side. The Naples-born centre-back had a superb season at il Toro, scoring four goals in 39 appearances to help Torino qualify for the Europa League. 


Signing Izzo wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility for Napoli either, they have often signed players from lesser Serie A clubs to add depth, such as former Bologna winger Simone Verdi.


A World-Class Striker

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Dries Mertens and Arkadiusz Milik deserve a lot of respect for their achievements with Napoli last season. It was a deadly partnership, with 33 goals scored between them, while winger Lorenzo Insigne occasionally partnered one of them.

This hasn't stopped Napoli from looking for an upgrade, with Gli Azzurri being linked with Inter striker Mauro Icardi. The addition of Icardi would surely put Juventus on alert, conscious that Napoli aren't messing about and that there will be no room for complacency as they look to defend their Scudetto. 

Regardless of how good Mertens and Milik are, Icardi would be a massive upgrade on these players, and if the Argentinian can improve his attitude, Napoli will have one of the best strikers in the world.


An Improvement on Jose Callejón

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A player who has been with Napoli since the Rafa Benítez era, right-winger Callejón has been virtually ever-present for I Partenopei since arriving back in 2013, making over 300 appearances and scoring 78 goals. 


That said, at the age of 32, Callejón is past his best and Napoli need to consider a replacement and have been linked with PSV winger Hirving Lozano. The Mexican has been a revelation since joining PSV back in 2017, scoring 40 goals and providing 23 assists in 74 appearances for the Eredivisie side. He would be a perfect long-term replacement for Callejón. 


A Quality Right Back

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While it could be argued that Napoli have already signed their replacement for the almost-certainly-departing Elseid Hysaj in Giovanni Di Lorenzo, it could also be argued that Di Lorenzo isn't actually good enough for Napoli's starting XI. 

SpursKieran Trippier would almost certainly be an improvement on Di Lorenzo and Kévin Malcuit. Though the rumours linking him to Napoli have died down recently, Trippier has been deemed surplus to requirements at Tottenham and Gli Azzurri might be able to get a good deal for him.

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