Cannavaro: ‘The title-winning Napoli was a perfect machine’


Former Italy great Fabio Cannavaro believes last seasons title winning Napoli side was a ‘perfect-machine’ and they’re among the favourites for the Scudetto again. Cannavaro spoke at length about his beloved Partenopei with La Gazzetta dello Sport and explained why they should be competing for the title again, despite Luciano Spalletti’s departure and the upcoming sale of Kim Min-Jae:

“Because last season’s Napoli was a perfect machine. Too much stronger than the others. Modern football, new ideas. Physical, technical and tactical overpowering. With Spalletti you automatically see the full-backs constantly inside the game: a more innovative position than Guardiola, Arteta or De Zerbi. And then an always fast reovery of the ball.”

Yes but Spalletti is gone.

“He will always remain in the hearts of Neapolitans. We will talk about his Napoli for years. Another more year in Azzurro was expected, but his decision must be accepted.”

Nostalgic already? This Napoli then where do we put it in the fight for the Scudetto?

“They remain in the front row, without a doubt. Although I am a bit worried about the loss of Kim: the Korean is very strong and replacing him will not be easy. Having said that, however, Napoli is changing their squad the least, which is already well equipped and there is an important factor. After you win, everything is better for you, less complicated. You know the way to win and it is definitely an advantage.”

Will Kvara still be able to make a difference?

“He still has a lot of room for improvement and is smart. The first half of the championship he did very well. Then he struggled a bit because in Italy they study you and mark you harder. Now he has to find new solutions.”

With Rudi Garcia, what changes?

“The Frenchman as an attitude is a bit more wait-and-see, although it will be difficult to change the behavior of a team brought to a certain type of game. I’m curious to see the first games. It will not be easy, but it would have been easy for anyone after Spalletti. Usually the less you tinker the better. Every coach wants to put his own spin on it, though.”

What d you expect from the Frenchman?

“A team that entertains. The culture of the Neapolitan is to see good soccer. Through good performances.”

Who can give more?

“Zielinski. He still hasn’t fully realized that he has a fantastic talent. He always plays a full ‘6,’ but he is an ‘8.’ I expect him to be a leader.”

PSG gave Mbappé an ultimatum: either renew or leave. Worried about Osimhen?

“Surely clubs like Paris or Manchester United-the ones that need a center forward the most-if they decide to take a player from Italy, they will. These are the forces in the market, no use deluding ourselves. De Laurentiis has correct business concepts and organizationally he has proven himself. He has succeeded in making the fans understand that one can also change while remaining competitive.”

Napoli the only favourite, or not?

“The history of the last two decades teaches: it never happened that for two years the Scudetto came out of the area of the Milanese and Juve. If Napoli repeated itself it would be exceptional. By the way, for me in the last three years the best squad has always been Inter. Now they have signed very interesting young players. The defender Bisseck is strong. Marcus Thuram, he has everything to confirm and improve in Serie A. Frattesi does not have Brozovic’s characteristics, but with Barella you have two airplanes to take off. In the middle, Calhanoglu has personality. And Asslani can grow. Nerazzurri at least on par.”

Juve takes Giuntoli and “copies” the Napoli model.

“Cristiano did very well, he has knowledge, but at Juve it is more complicated. You don’t have the time: you have to get a couple of shots in right away. And then it doesn’t always succeed to spend less and win: those who have more budget have an advantage. I think they will do a capital increase. Especially at Juve they have to figure out which way to go, whether to rebuild. They have very strong players: Chiesa, Vlahovic and Pogba become the best buys if they recover. Allegri knows the environment well, he will have to conduct the market with Giuntoli. If the two of them don’t team up, everything will become bloody complicated.”


“They made the mistake of leaving Maldini behind. It is not just image. In building the team and managing two years ago, Paolo built a masterpiece in accounts as well. The Rossoneri remain a step below, also because of a question of timing.”


“Roma can and must do more in the league. It cannot finish sixth with that roster. Scamacca if he returns from the Premier League can bring something more. Lazio has been the real surprise with Sarri, second with important numbers. Maurizio has his beliefs, which may seem limited to some, but results count.”

Why is the national team struggling?

“The boys are coming through. Tonali is the demonstration. Pafundi has a good future. Casadei is already at Chelsea. The line is thin between being a good player to a winner. Maybe we have lost that hunger, that spirit of suffering. DNA is important: we have to pull it back out. We are the Italians, in world football we’re respected. We need the concepts of the coaches. I also like beautiful football, possession. But you have to have quality ball possession not in front of your own area. Every now and then we need a long ball to break the opponent’s defense. We want to be too beautiful. It happened to me to win two Under-21 European Championships even without making many passes in a row, but we took it home.”

What is missing in our movement?

“The stadiums. We hope to have the organization of the 2032 European Championship. We need to build modern facilities.”

Why did toy not accept Karagumruk’s proposal?

“I thank the Turkish club for calling me but the team is to be rebuilt and there was no agreement on my staff either.”


Serie A obsessive.