As the halfway point of the summer’s transfer window approaches the speculation surrounding Napoli striker Ezequiel Lavezzi’s departure is intensifying. After qualifying for the Champions League this season it seems almost unthinkable that the Partenopei could part with their star Argentine forward.
Although much of Napoli’s success last season has been attributed to strike partner Edinson Cavani the star of the show was ‘el Pocho’. Whilst the Uruguayan scored 26 goals in Serie A, many of those were made possible by his partner’s overall contribution. He is a great dribbler who is able to beat defenders and provide the final ball.
After being dubbed the ‘new Maradona’ as a youngster, he arrived in Italy in 2004 at Genoa, aged 19. He was sent back on loan to San Lorenzo where his progress continued. He was supposed to return to Genoa at the end of the year but after they were relegated he was sold to the Argentine side for €1m. Although not prolific he continued to progress and helped the side win the Clausura in 2007.
Having returned to Serie A after a year’s absence Napoli snapped up Lavezzi for €6m. He made an immediate impact and helped his new side to finish eighth in the league and qualify for the Intertoto Cup. That season he helped his side to win 5-0 against Udinese which was their biggest winning margin since their other legendary Argentinian Diego Maradona was there. Comparisons between Lavezzi and Maradona were inevitable but one he was able to handle.
Unfortunately he was not included in the Argentina World Cup squad in 2010 but he has since found himself back in the fold and has taken his chances. He has established himself as a regular in Sergio Batista’s squad and is currently representing his country in the Copa América.
His performances last season were vastly aided by the decision taken by his Coach Walter Mazzarri. Previous Coaches have struggled to find his correct position but now he is playing behind Cavani, slightly to the left. He has also been given the freedom to move around and be a little less restricted in his movement. He contributed 12 assists this season which helped his side to achieve a Champions League position.
Without him Napoli have struggled to create the chances for Cavani to score regularly. Although both have been linked with moves this summer it is essential that Lavezzi remains next season. Even if Cavani were to leave they would have the creative force to threaten sides next season. It is often the player who does not grab the headlines who is more integral to the side, and this is certainly the case with Lavezzi. Napoli President Aurelio de Laurentiis must ensure his prized asset remains at the club.