The stars are evident, but Spalletti’s triumph is raising the level of Napoli’s entire squad

There are some players who aren't quite as fashionable as Osimhen and Kvaratskhelia, but are just as important to Napoli's relentless charge towards the Serie A title which continued against Empoli.


No one is fed up of hearing about Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s exploits at Napoli this season, unless you really, really hate Napoli.

That being said, let’s park the 29 goals that they have scored between them in Serie A so far this season to one side. If you want to read about their ridiculous form you can do so here instead.

There is more than just them having an incredible season with Napoli, and that is what really shows how well Luciano Spalletti has done with his side in 2022/23. There are a handful of players that everyone knew possessed quality, but they have reached new heights and levels of consistency this season.

Napoli wingback Giovanni Di Lorenzo in action against Empoli. [@Getty]

Napoli’s crucial wingbacks

As well as having a superb set of midfielders, Napoli now have such a threat on both wings as Mario Rui and Giovanni Di Lorenzo are crucial to the way that Napoli play.

On the right flank, there is Di Lorenzo who has been an important player at Napoli for a short while now. He has reached new heights this season, though.

He is a constant option in attack down the right side and he has contributed five assists and three goals in all competitions. At 29 years old, the Italian is a player that just keeps developing under the guidance of Spalletti and he impressed again against his former side.

Napoli’s Giovanni Di Lorenzo celebrates with goalscorer Elif Elmas. (@en_sscnapoli)

This is where there should be some description of how impressive and important Mario Rui has been this season, but one thing that even Spalletti cannot coach out of a player is stupidity. Olivera will be relied upon at left wingback in the coming weeks as Rui was shown a straight red card against Empoli for kicking Francesco Caputo in the crotch.

Luckily for him, it didn’t derail Napoli and they only looked like adding to their 2-0 lead at the Stadio Carlo Castellani in the final 20 minutes on Saturday evening.

Under another coach, it would be easy to imagine the two slightly-ageing defenders being shipped out in favour of more youth. Perhaps in any other league, they would have been.

Lobotka, Lozano and Rrahmani all improve

There are plenty of players that could be thrown into this category but three that have really stood out this season are Stanislav Lobotka in the midfield, Hirving Lozano in attack and Amir Rrahmani at the back.

Lobotka has been a solid player at Napoli since his arrival in 2020, in the same manner that Di Lorenzo has been. This season though, he has been undroppable. He dictates the play so effectively for Spalletti’s side. He is their tidiest midfielder by far and the quality of those attacking ahead of him means he can focus on his role. He has one goal and one assist in Serie A this season, and that is fine. His role is to get things going for Napoli, not finish it off.

Hirving Chucky Lozano claims a Player of the Match award in the Champions League. (@sscnapolI)

Lozano fits the bill as well. It’s always felt like there is a bit more to come from the Mexican winger, and this season he is thriving as the third member of an attack where Osimhen and Kvaratskhelia grab the headlines. He has four goals and four assists from the right wing and his running never ceases to amaze.

For Rrahmani, he has felt like the sort of player in the past who could be shipped out at moment. He is the first-choice centre-back alongside Kim Min-jae this season, though. The credit for his improvement likely lands partly at the feet of the South Korean too, but Spalletti is certainly involved.

You can throw Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa and Elif Elmas in there as well for good measure. With Napoli moving 18 points clear at the top of the Serie A table for the time being, Spalletti may be able to use more of his squad as the title becomes more and more secure.


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