It will be difficult for Napoli to take the next step in their development after allowing another star player in Gonzalo Higuain to leave, according to Fabio Cannavaro.
The Argentine striker, last season’s top scorer in Serie A, departed for Juventus in the off-season, the latest high-profile attacker to leave Stadio San Paolo, following Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani, the star forwards having moved to Paris Saint-Germain in 2012 and 2013 respectively.
Cannavaro, who began his career with Napoli before later playing for Serie A rivals Parma, Inter and Juventus, as well as Real Madrid in Spain, knows the Partenopei faithful will suffer when they see former fan favourite Higuain in a Bianconeri strip.
“It won’t be easy,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport.
“He was deeply loved and he had turned into the symbol of the race against Juve. Seeing him there, now, isn’t easy for my people. But when you have a [buyout] clause, what can you do?
“The truth is that everybody gained from this deal, with no exceptions. I’m a bit perplexed because I’ve seen Lavezzi, then Cavani and now Higuain all departing. If you sell your best players, it’s tough to develop.”
Cannavaro welcomed the arrival of Poland international forward Arkadiusz Milik from Ajax and believes Napoli have retained the core of a talented squad, the 2006 World Cup-winner backing head coach Maurizio Sarri to strike the right balance between domestic and European commitments.
“Signing Milik was an excellent choice after the loss of Higuain, who is practically irreplaceable,” he said.
“I’m convinced that [Lorenzo] Insigne will keep developing, and that [Kalidou] Koulibaly and Jorginho will confirm themselves [as top players].
“Their task will be to keep a high level of competitiveness in both tournaments, as the Champions League drains a lot of energies.
“Napoli, alongside Roma, can challenge Juve in the Scudetto race. Sarri is their ace up the sleeve.”