Maurizio Sarri admitted he stuck by “extraordinary” Marek Hamsik during his dry spell after Napoli’s club captain finally equalled Diego Maradona’s all-time goalscoring record.
Hamsik fired home his side’s third and final goal in the 3-1 win at Torino, with his 115th strike for the club in all competitions drawing him level at the top of the charts.
The Slovakia international had been stuck one shy of the legendary Maradona’s mark since netting in his side’s 3-0 triumph over Cagliari on October 1, with his barren run finally coming to an end at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday.
“We are talking about a player of an extraordinary level,” Sarri told Mediaset Premium.
“If someone like him plays 45 games of an inferior level, you just have to accept it and stick by him with the certainty he’ll pay you back eventually. He’d been improving for the past few matches.”
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) December 16, 2017
As well as Hamsik’s personal achievement, the positive result on the road lifted Napoli to the top of the Serie A table.
They leapfrogged over Inter, who surprisingly lost 3-1 at home to Udinese, in the standings, with Sarri acknowledging that his players knew what was at stake prior to kick-off in Rome.
“My players knew what Inter had done and these are situations that can either help or hinder,” he added.
“They can give you the hunger to recapture the leadership, but can also pile extra pressure on. Today the lads did well to take the positive aspects from San Siro’s result.”
Napoli are back in action on Tuesday, taking on Udinese in the Coppa Italia, before they round out the calendar year with league fixtures against Sampdoria and Crotone.
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