Napoli 2023/24 season preview: Transfers, expectations and early fixtures

After a historic Serie A title win last season, a change of coach and a tricky transfer window will likely mean a more complicated 2023/24 campaign for Napoli. But how will they fare as they seek to defend their scudetto?

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Napoli will commence the 2023/24 season as reigning Serie A champions after breaking a 33-year scudetto drought in the previous campaign, but they will be doing so after losing some key elements on and off the pitch.

Luciano Spalletti, who coached the Partenopei to that historical triumph, decided to step down as coach to take a break from football and has been replaced by Rudi Garcia, while sporting director Cristiano Giuntoli has joined Juventus after eight years in Naples.

Soccer Football – Serie A – Napoli v Spezia – Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, Naples, Italy – September 10, 2022 Napoli coach Luciano Spalletti REUTERS/Alberto Lingria

Despite those departures, Napoli have kept hold of some star players, who were perhaps expected to be sold for substantial profits. However, the 2022/23 season was an extraordinary campaign for the Neapolitans, winning the Serie A title by 16 points and reaching the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time. Any further success on the pitch would be seen as a bonus for the Partenopei fans.

Napoli signings and sales

Napoli stars such as Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and Victor Osimhen were linked with moves to other major European clubs, but Partenopei president Aurelio De Laurentiis has held onto some of his most prized assets. However, Piotr Zielinski, who is in the final year of his contract, could still leave amid interest from Saudi Arabia and Lazio.

With Mauro Meluso as the new sporting director, the Neapolitans have not spent lavishly on new players. Swedish midfielder Jens Cajuste was signed from French club Stade de Reims for €12 million while Brazilian defender Natan was signed from RB Bragantino for €10m. Forwards Giacomo Raspadori and Giovanni Simeone have also been signed permanently from Sassuolo and Hellas Verona respectively.

The biggest departure for Napoli was clearly Kim Min-jae, who Bayern Munich purchased for €50m, and it was evident that he was player almost impossible to retain. His composed defending and effective passing attracted attention far and wide, and despite being in Naples for just one season, his performances won’t be forgotten after that Serie A triumph.

Tanguy Ndombele and Bartosz Bereszynski were not bought outright and returned to their respective clubs, while Andrea Petagna and Sebastiano Luperto joined Monza and Empoli respectively on permanent deals.

Napoli season expectations

Napoli’s Victor Osimhen with the Serie A title. (@en_sscnapoli)

Despite making some notable changes, Napoli should remain a contender for the Serie A title. The squad remains balanced, and with Kvaratskhelia weaving his magic on the left wing as well as Osimhen firing in the goals, winning back-to-back scudetti is not an unrealistic proposition.

The key might be how Garcia can impose his tactics on this Partenopei squad. His previously coaching experience in Italy was with AS Roma from 2013 to 2016, more than seven years ago, and his latest coaching spell was in Saudi Arabia with Al Nassr.

On the flipside of things, his record in Europe is superior to Spalletti’s. He took Olympique Marseille to the 2018 Europa League Final with current Napoli midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa in the squad, and he reached the 2019/20 Champions League semi-finals with Olympique Lyon. Could Napoli better their Champions League quarter-final appearance from last season?

Napoli fixtures: First six 2023/24 Serie A matches

Soccer Football – Serie A – Napoli v Spezia – Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, Naples, Italy – September 10, 2022 General view inside the stadium before the match REUTERS/Alberto Lingria

Napoli have a favourable draw, facing two out of the three teams promoted from Serie B, whereas Lazio are the only opponent they face that has qualified for a European competition this campaign. Although winning his first 11 Serie A matches with AS Roma in 2013/14 was something out of the ordinary, Garcia should still be able to ease his way back into Italian football.

DateFixture
August 19 (17:30 BST/18:30 CEST)Frosinone vs Napoli
August 27 (19:45 BST/20:45 CEST)Napoli vs Sassuolo
September 2 (19:45 BST/20:45 CEST)Napoli vs Lazio
September 16 (19:45 BST/20:45 CEST)Genoa vs Napoli
September 24 (kick-off TBC)Bologna vs Napoli
September 27 (kick-off TBC)Napoli vs Udinese

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