Have the Partenopei sufficiently replaced Cavani?
The summer began in Naples with speculation that prolific striker Edinson Cavani would be leaving Italy, with a whole host of top European clubs credited with an interest.
The Uruguayan international eventually opted for Paris Saint-Germain, with Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis holding out for his €63m release clause fee and added it to an already reinforced bank balance.
With Rafa Benitez brought in to replace Walter Mazzarri, the Spaniard wasted little time in assembling a squad that he believes is capable of achieving great things this season, and the argument can be made that Napoli are a better all-round team following Cavani’s departure.
Pepe Reina has been installed as the club’s new number one, and the Spaniard represents a reliable and consistent presence between the sticks, with compatriot Raul Albiol signed to add some solidity to the defence.
It is often forgotten that Napoli had the second best defensive record in Serie A last season, but critics still suggest that if they have aspirations of challenging the top clubs in Europe, their defence is still their weakness.
Nevertheless, further additions have been made to their attack, with the likes of Jose Callejon and Dries Mertens providing Benitez with several options to support his marquee signing of the summer.
The responsibility of replacing Cavani’s goals primarily falls on Gonzalo Higuain, and when the Argentinian isn’t slipping off boats in Capri he will be expected to lead the line and contribute both with goals and assists.
With youngster Lorenzo Insigne tipped for a productive season, the spotlight has perhaps been neglectful of Napoli’s real star this year.
With both Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi moving to Paris, Marek Hamsik is the last man standing of the much heralded attacking trident that made Napoli so feared across Europe two years ago.
The Slovakian has been handed the armband in the absence of Paolo Cannavaro, and he appears to be relishing his new role in Benitez’s system. With four goals in two games thus far, he will undoubtedly play a major part in Napoli’s success this year along with his new Argentinian team-mate.
Transfer window rating: 8/10
Probable line-up this season (4-2-3-1):