Italian club Napoli have a new man at the helm in Rafa Benitez and already he has made his mark with his signings.
Predecessor Walter Mazzarri had done a fantastic job keeping the Azzurri in the Champions League spots in Serie A for the last couple of seasons.
Napoli finished second last season to champions Juventus and boss Mazzarri decided to move to a new challenge at Milan giants Inter.
His replacement Rafa Benitez was not exactly greeted with universal acclaim by the Azzurri fans.
However, his transfer dealing so far must have started to win the fans over. It was inevitable that Uruguayan talisman Edinson Cavani would move on this summer and he moved to big-spending French outfit PSG for £54million.
Benitez has set about investing the Cavani money wisely. He brought in Spanish duo Jose Callejon and Raul Albiol from Real Madrid, along with Belgium winger Dries Martens.
The signings of highly-rated Brazilian keeper Rafael and Pepe Reina from Liverpool could also mean the end for last season’s first choice Morgan De Sanctis, who has been linked with a move to Inter.
The most impressive signing of all is set to take place, that of Gonzalo Higuain from Real Madrid for a believed fee of around £34.5million. The Argentinian has been prolific throughout his career at Real Madrid, despite never being considered an important first team player in the Spanish capital.
Higuain will be an important player at the San Paolo though. He will get the respect he never got at Real in Naples. Higuain is a fantastic replacement for the departing Cavani. The Azzurri have signed an excellent striker and with money to spare from the sale of Cavani.
Higuain should provide the main focal point of attack for Napoli next season, with the likes of Callejon and Martens on the wings supplying the ammunition, which is without mentioning the talented stars already in the Napoli squad.
Napoli already have a pretty talented group of players in their squad, even without the new arrivals. Cavani is the only key player that Napoli has lost this summer. The squad still contains the likes of Marek Hamsik, Gokhan Inler, and Goran Pandev.
Unlike when Benitez took over at Inter, he is not inheriting an aging squad that needs completely revamping. The squad is in very good shape and the Spaniard has improved it even further with the players he has brought in this summer.
It is almost a quarter of a century since the Azzurri last won the Scudetto. Their last Italian league title came in 1990, when Argentinian legend Diego Maradona inspired the Azzurri to their second Italian title in three years.
Higuain may not be in the same league as Maradona, but he is an Argentinian attacker that knows how to score a goal. Maybe it will be a case of history repeating itself in Naples, an Argentinian striker inspiring a title triumph.
There is one team that stands in Napoli’s way to triumph though, and that is the ever-powerful Juventus. The Bianconeri have claimed successive Scudetto’s and look even stronger than last season.
The signings of Fernando Llorente and Carlos Tevez is a signal of intent on Juventus’ part. They plan not only to dominate Italian football, but to make their mark on the Champions League next season as well.
Juventus strengthening their squad will make it even harder for the boys from Naples to claim the Scudetto next season. The likes of AC Milan and Inter are also likely to improve their squads before the Italian season starts.
Rafa Benitez will be looking for a spot of redemption from the Italian football public after a disastrous stint in charge of Inter. He will be looking to prove himself in Naples and there would be no better way of doing that then bringing home the Scudetto.
The challenge is a big one. Benitez showed his strength of character at Chelsea guiding the Blues to third in the Premier League and Europa League glory, against the backdrop of the Chelsea’s fans distain.
Benitez has made a wise decision choosing to manage Napoli. He has taken over a club with a talented squad and passionate support. Those passionate supporters have not had much to shout about in recent years. Their new boss could be just the man to bring back the glory days to the Stadio San Paolo.
Could Rafa Benitez lead Napoli to the Scudetto next season?
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