Partenopei still in hunt for silverware this season.
In the third instalment of our six-part Serie A series, we take a closer look at what Napoli boss Rafa Benitez needs to do with his squad in January.
After 18 games played, Napoli are currently in third place in Serie A but remain 10 points behind leaders Juventus.
Having started the season strongly and confirmed themselves as genuine Scudetto contenders, Benitez’s side suffered a slight dip in form which also coincided with their elimination from the Champions League.
It was a disappointing end to their time at Europe’s top table this year, but the Spanish tactician has previously stated that he will take the Europa League seriously and will look to win it for the second time in two years after his success with Chelsea last year.
Nevertheless, the positives within his squad are clear as Gonzalo Higuain is growing into an integral part of their progress as he offers more than Edinson Cavani from a team perspective, although injuries have somewhat disrupted his influence.
The Argentinian striker is equally as comfortable scoring goals as he is supplying them for his team-mates, with the likes of Jose Callejon and Dries Mertens flourishing in the first part of the campaign, the latter more so in recent weeks.
However, their Achilles heel perhaps remains their defence as both Juve (11) and Roma (10) have conceded significantly less than goals compared to Napoli’s 20, as we approach the mid-way point of the season.
Paolo Cannavaro continues to be linked with an exit which would be a huge disappointment considering his ties with the club, while speculation suggests that Benitez is pushing for a reunion with Daniel Agger, as reported by Football Italia.
Should the Dane arrive, it would go some way to addressing their problems at the back, but the former Liverpool boss is clearly unsatisfied with his current squad after Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas revealed that Maxime Gonalons would not be leaving the club this month.
Furthermore, Radja Nainggolan has now completed a move to Roma after being linked with a move to Naples, which suggests that the transfer work this month is still short of being completed.
Both Benitez and president Aurelio De Laurentiis appear to be keen to strengthen in January, as ultimately the Partenopei would see silverware as progress in the Spaniard’s first season in charge.
Although Juve show no sign of slowing down at the time of writing, Napoli can consider themselves still in the Scudetto hunt if they can gain some momentum and put together a winning run which would in turn put pressure on the defending champions and raise belief in Naples.
However, they still need a boost in the next three weeks in order to plug some of the gaps in the squad to achieve their ambitions and Benitez appears to be fully aware of the requirement to improve and add depth to both the defence and midfield.