SSC Napoli confirm talks to sign James Rodriguez and Kostas Manolas
by Chirag R Bhattad
Naples: SSC Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has confirmed that Napoli are in the market for a centre-back and an attacker to replace club legend Marek Hamsik. Manager Carlo Ancelotti has requested the club president to make James Rodriguez an absolute priority, with PSV’s Mexican starlet Hirving Lozano mooted as a potential alternative.
SSC Napoli have a long history of signing players from Real Madrid, with Jose Callejon and Gonzalo Higuain moving from the Santiago Bernabeu to the Stadio San Paolo. One more player to move from Madrid to Naples is Raul Albiol.
The veteran Spanish defender has also decided to move on from Napoli. This has opened up a big hole in Ancelotti’s defense, one that he will look to fill by signing AS Roma defender Kostas Manolas. The Greek International, famous for scoring the goal which dumped FC Barcelona out of the Champions league 2-years ago, has been one of the best defenders in Serie A for a long time now.
He will be an instant upgrade on Raul Albiol, making the centre-back pairing of Kalidou Koulibaly and Kostas Manolas the best pairing in the league. Here is what club president Aurelio De Laurentiis said about transfer targets and Ancelotti’s demands on Radio Kiss Kiss:
“James Rodriguez is Ancelotti’s wish. I don’t know if we need him 100 percent, but his talent isn’t in doubt. I must help my coach. He wants James and I won’t bat an eyelid, even if he’s very expensive.
If James doesn’t go through with Jorge Mendes, we’ll go forward with Mino Raiola about the possibility of taking Lozano. We’ve also been working on Manolas since Albiol announced his desire to leave.
With Manolas, however, there are issues with his character. We need our players to be very calm. Roma are another problem because they’ve changed their sporting direction. We’re checking to see if we can sign him at a fair and reasonable price.
Manolas is already at a certain age and can’t be resold. He’s fine by me, but we mustn’t waste money and he has a big salary.”
It will be interesting to see if SSC Napoli will be able to sign their transfer targets, but if they do, they will have a very interesting squad to mount a title challenge with. Here is what their squad would look like, with James Rodriguez and Kostas Manolas in it:
Goalkeepers: Alex Meret, David Ospina, Orestis Karnezis.
Defenders: Kevin Malcuit, Mario Rui, Nikola Maksimovic, Vlad Chirches, Kalidou Koulibaly, Kostas Manolas, Faouzi Ghoulam.
Midfielders: Allan, Fabian Ruiz, James Rodriguez, Piotr Zielinski, Amin Younes, Amadou Diawara.
Forwards: Jose Callejon, Dries Mertens, Arkadiusz Milik, Lorenzo Insigne, Adam Ounas, Simone Verdi.