The following is a Napoli Q&A session with the Far From Vesuvius Network ahead of the Partenopei’s Champions League match against Liverpool. You can follow them here on Twitter.
Napoli lost a lot of key players but don’t seem to have skipped a beat! What are your thoughts on the clubs summer mercato?
Going into the summer, even the most optimistic Napoli fan would’ve told you they were probably a little nervous. Obviously after the start of the season now, and the impact the incoming players have had, it’s been a massive success. Kvaratskhelia and Kim especially, have come into very difficult positions. They have replaced two club legends in Insigne and Koulibaly, but have done so well thus far. I think we’d probably give Napoli’s mercato an 8/10.
Who do you think is the most important Napoli signing this summer?
This is a difficult one, because of the caliber of players we were replacing. Going slightly against the grain here, Kvaratskhelia has gotten (deservedly) most of the headlines, but Kim Min-Jae had the tougher task in replacing Kalidou Koulibaly.
What are your hopes/expectations for this Champions League group stage?
We’ll keep this one short and sweet.
Hopes (we can dream, okay?) – Semi-Finals
Expectations – Round of 16
Napoli have started the season really well – they’ve come so close to lifting the Scudetto at times, could this be the year it falls into place?
Honestly, We were afraid we’d have issues even making UEL this season, but our approach has proved to unnerve the opposition thus far. Scudetto talk is hard for us, but we’ve been smart in the mercato and followed a definite plan, and that’s allowed for early success. The biggest issue Napoli have had recently is collapsing in the spring, but we have youth and depth on our side, so despite the competition at the top of the table, we expect to make the top four.
What are your thoughts on ADL and his management of the club?
This is a spicy one. The fanbase is fairly split on this, and there are valid arguments for either side of the discussion. In the footballing aspect, he has done very well. We have been a consistent force in the league for over a decade. Furthermore, we are in European competition for the 12th season in a row, which is the longest run in Serie A and obviously our longest in the club’s history. On the other side, his interpersonal skills, outspokenness, brand growth and development, and outreach to the Napoli community is probably his biggest weakness.
Ronaldo: Would you have been for, or against his arrival?
Putting his personal history aside, CR doesn’t really fit with what Napoli is doing right now. Spalletti doesn’t like egos in the locker room, and he has a definite plan for the side: young and fun. The arrival of a superstar, even with most of his wages paid, would’ve thrown off that plan. Plus, Osimhen is just going to get better!
What are your thoughts ahead of the Liverpool game?
We are playing Liverpool at home, and it seems we have a new tradition of welcoming Klopp here every time we are in the Champions League. This will be Klopp’s 4th time at the Maradona (3rd with Liverpool, and once with Borussia Dortmund). It, as always, will be electric at the stadium, and it should be a properly tight matchup. Our defense will have a real big test against the likes of Salah and Co, and the new signings have a chance to truly stamp their names in the lore of the club very early in their tenures.
What kind of approach do you think Spalletti will take?
There shouldn’t be any reason to approach this any different than against any other team. Napoli have the personality and talent to compete in this fixture, especially at home.
Thoughts on Min Jae Kim? (What a player!)
Koulibaly FIFA regen? We kid, but he has really been impressive. He is a true modern central defender. Aerial prowess, good one on one defender, Athletic, and an eye for goal. He’s really the whole package. The hope is he can continue on this trajectory. But safe to say, we are very happy to have him.
Expected score line for the Liverpool match?
We’d rather not make predictions…superstition and all that 🙂
What do you think the starting XI will be?
Shouldn’t see any changes to our main starting XI aside from Lozano most likely being out:
Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Kim, Rui
Anguissa, Lobotka, ZIelinski
Politano, Osimhen, Kvaratskhelia
What’s Koulibaly’s legacy amongst the Napoli supporters?
Man, we could write a whole article on this. Kalidou Koulibaly was a symbol of a great Napoli. He is as good a man as he is a footballer, and embodied what it’s like to be an adopted son of our city. We watched him grow, and become one of the best defenders in football. He scored one of our best memories in modern Napoli history against Juventus, and made us proud for nearly a decade. Per Sempre, Uno di Noi!
Who player will be most important on the night, for Napoli and Liverpool?
It’s a LW showdown! For Napoli, all eyes are on Kvaratskhelia. Mark our words, if he scores on his opening night in the Champions League, all of Napoli’s fan roars will be heard in Liverpool.
For Liverpool, It’s Darwin Nunez. He’s started off the season leading Liverpool in goals, and has stepped in very nicely for Sadio Mane.