It will presumably be a matter of time before Napoli clinch their third Scudetto, the steps of their march toward the glory marked, week in, week out, by yet another piece of magic from Victor Osimhen and/or Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.
However, as soon as the maths will crown them Italian champions and captain Giovanni Di Lorenzo will lift the Serie A trophy, sending the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona crowd into raptures, a question will start to linger on the mind of many Napoli fans.
Will Osimhen and Kvaratskhelia be still there when the Azzurri will try to make a strong title defence to win Serie A for the second time in a row for the first time in history?
Osimhen and Kvaratskhelia: The icing on Napoli’s cake
Such a prospect could even sound overly ambitious, but the staggering evidence is there to support it – there’s not a single aspect in which Napoli haven’t outplayed all of their domestic opponents, just as if they belonged to another tier. They’ve scored more than any other team, conceded less than anyone else and put together an 11-game winning streak in Serie A, all of that while also taking the Champions League by storm.
It would be hugely reductive to think that Napoli are simply overperforming, especially considering the massive turnover that took place over the summer, which could’ve undermined Luciano Spalletti‘s work in his first season.
Instead, the coach nicely slotted the pieces he was given into a system that proved perfect to enhance every one of them, but the feeling is that most of them have now blossomed and reached their full potential – in other words, they have first benefitted from Spalletti’s collective system, but their growth is now permanent.
It would be unfair to claim that the likes of Kim Min-Jae, Stanislav Lobotka, Piotr Zielinski and Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa would struggle to replicate their form seen at Napoli elsewhere, and there’s a reason why several European teams have got them on their radar.
But as much as the whole group has contributed to making Napoli the powerhouse they’ve become, it’s crystal clear that Osimhen and Kvaratskhelia are the main architects of this process, having taken the Azzurri to another level, which is why their permanence at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona is seen as paramount to boost Napoli’s future chances of success. However, both the club and the players could be heavily tempted by lucrative offers coming from the likes of Real Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester United.
Can Napoli begin a period of dominance?
Such a delicate matter is primarily related to the vision of owner Aurelio De Laurentiis – will the club’s first Scudetto in more than 30 years be an endpoint or rather mark the beginning of a new era? While the Italian filmmaker has always been cautious when it came to investing in his club, which has resulted in several decent balance sheets, he has probably realised by now that Napoli boast an unprecedented chance to open a winning cycle, at least domestically.
Their squad has an average age of 26,1, meaning that the majority of their players, including the most valuable ones, still have room for improvement. Couple it with the lack of stability that affects their main competitors, be it AC Milan, Inter or Juventus, and it is evident that it could be far from easy for them to bridge the gap with Luciano Spalletti‘s rampant side, especially if they act wisely in the transfer market.
Does it mean they’re obliged to keep Osimhen and Kvaratskhelia? That could certainly be the quickest way to remain close to the top, but there are arguably other efficient solutions that a forward-thinking owner like De Laurentiis could contemplate. One of them would entail giving continuity to the prudent management that has taken the Azzurri where they are now. While it certainly took some time, it allowed the Partenopei to sign most of their key players, except Osimhen, for bargain prices and give them time to develop, which is exactly what happened with the likes of Zielinski, Anguissa or Lobotka.
In line with this approach, Napoli could opt to sell one of their two gems, cash in a lucrative bid that may well overcome the €100 million figure, with the chance to unleash sporting director Federico Giuntoli in search of more talents to strengthen a team that would still have a strong backbone anyway.
Yet, with the club’s accounts looking good and a passionate city behind them, De Laurentiis could still decide that his fanbase deserves to watch Osimhen and Kvaratskhelia play with the Scudetto on their jerseys for at least one season, fully aware of the fact that their price-tag is unlikely to plunge in the space of some months.
Much more than a simple strategy, it’d be a huge statement of intent from Napoli and their owner – the chance to open a new era of supremacy in Italy is there and keeping Osimhen and Kvaratskhelia would definitely increase the odds to do so.