Partenopei putting the pieces in place to compete on biggest stages.
Despite faltering in their Scudetto bid and suffering heartbreak in the Champions League this season, Napoli continue to build the foundations to become a European powerhouse.
The Serie A giants have had a turbulent history that has been well documented, from the highs of the ‘Maradona era’ to the lows of bankruptcy and relegation that followed.
Their rise to prominence over the past decade or so has seen them return to the spotlight, regularly competing at the highest levels both domestically and in Europe, with Rafa Benitez now tasked with ensuring that their development continues.
While there is much work yet to be done, the southern giants have shown that they are making the right moves both on and off the pitch moving forward, and will threaten to become one of Europe’s leading clubs in the years to come.
Arguably none of this could be possible without a fanatical set of supporters, who make a visit to the San Paolo a unique experience.
Regularly praised as being an influential factor in the club’s recovery and recent success, the Neapolitans are a significant part of what drives the club forward, not to mention their impact during games and their appeal to potential signings.
Although talks continue over a privately owned stadium, club owner Aurelio De Laurentiis is safe in the knowledge that the revenue and income generated from the supporters will only increase while they exploit commercial opportunities simultaneously.
With Edinson Cavani joining Paris Saint-Germain last summer, sceptics considered his departure a sign that Napoli were perhaps incapable of building, and perhaps more importantly, maintaining a competitive squad.
Ezequiel Lavezzi had left the previous summer, while their top stars are regularly courted by their rivals across Europe.
Nevertheless, as Argentinian legend Gabriel Batistuta noted this week, Higuain is arguably a better all-round striker than his Uruguayan predecessor, and his influence on the team has been noticeable this season.
Provided he can remain healthy, the 26-year-old has an integral role to play in the club’s development, and in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport this week, he insisted that it is his dream to follow in the footsteps of Diego Maradona, and deliver the city of Naples a league title.
A shrewd business man as well as a football club owner, Aurelio De Laurentiis has played a pivotal role in keeping the squad competitive, whilst also monitoring the finances of the club.
Napoli are amongst a small group of clubs in Italy that have been operating at a profit over a number of years, and his business dealings in the transfer market continue to help them remain in a healthy financial position.
Since Rafa Benitez joined the club the outlay has been significant, but the club’s supporters can rest assured that the management have clear ideas moving forward.
The transfer strategy is perhaps interlinked with the previous point, in that the club has targeted a blend of experience and youth in assembling their current squad.
The likes of Higuain, Jose Callejon, Dries Mertens and Raul Albiol are all roughly around the same age, and in football terms that have yet to reach their peak.
Jorginho is a particularly impressive signing as he threatens to be a regular fixture for both club and country for years to come, and with more signings promised in the summer to address the weaknesses in the current squad, things can only improve.
Perhaps not fully appreciated in certain previous jobs, the Spanish tactician has delivered success at every club has been in charge of.
De Laurentiis continues to be fascinated with his man-management skills and tactical brain, and is insistent that Benitez will lead the club to long-term success.
As shown with Walter Mazzarri, the club are patient with their coaches and believe in building a legacy with each individual, and Benitez is merely just starting his cycle.
“I picked Benitez to win,” De Laurentiis told reporters recently, as reported by Football Italia. “But many people need to understand that you cannot win immediately.
“It is also difficult to do it without a stadium and a healthy youth structure. We are working towards both of these things.”
The duo have a fantastic understanding on the future direction of the club, and although they are lacking in certain areas at this point, back both De Laurentiis and Benitez to put things right.