Napoli Searching For A New Backup Goalkeeper After Rafael Cabral Injury

Alex Grimm

With Rafael out for the season and likely in to next year, Napoli are scrambling to find a new backup for Pepe Reina.

With Rafael out for the season, Pepe Reina frequently hurt, and a heavy run of matches coming up, a new backup goalkeeper is suddenly hugely important. With Rafael around and in tremendous form, Reina's injuries and drop in form weren't concerning, but now that Rafael is suddenly gone, the situation in net seems a lot nervier.

With that in mind, the reports from Gianluca di Marzio that Napoli are frantically looking to sign a veteran 'keeper on a free make a lot of sense. The only other netminder in the squad is Roberto Colombo, and without the ability to recall Mariano Andujar or Antonio Rosati from their loans, things are very dicey right now. Di Marzio suggests that the club's primary target is former German international Tim Wiese, who would be a reasonable option for Napoli to turn to.

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Wiese, 32, left Hoffenheim by mutual agreement last month after not playing for the club in a year after a falling-out with club management. That falling out and it's cause (reportedly including multiple alcohol-fueled incidents) are cause for concern, but given the limited pool available and Wiese's past success between the sticks, there's not many better options available to Napoli.

Wiese was once one of the better goalkeepers in Germany, holding down the defense well with Werder Bremen before he joined Hoffenheim a year and a half ago. While he only has six caps with the German national team, he was a frequent call-up and backup to Manuel Neuer. Always known for his flamboyant attitude and leadership on the pitch, it was hoped that he could help lead Hoffenheim to success in the Bundesliga, but a rough opening spell with the club, an injury, and the aforementioned off-pitch issues led to a virtual exile from the club and the cancelling of his contract.

Other potentially viable options who are listed as available on a free transfer by transfermarkt (who make it their business to stay well up-to-date on such matters) include Belgium's Stijn Stijnen and Frank Boeckx. Stijnen, 32, was once a regular in Belgium's national set-up and has 30 caps to his name, though he hasn't sniffed the senior side in some time thanks to the rise of Thibaut Courtois and Simon Mignolet. He has a long history of success in Belgium's Jupiler League, most notably with Club Brugge, where he played almost 200 matches and was part of multiple league and Cup titles. He was most recently with Beerschot, where he was released over the summer after two years of service.

Boeckx doesn't have the same pedigree as Stijnen, but played well with KAA Genk in recent years, which have seen them finish well in the Jupiler League on several occasions. He was cut free last month after losing his starting job two months in to the season, and while he wouldn't be a strong backup, he'd be a decent enough option to help Napoli limp through to the end of the season.

Perhaps the best all-round option that would leave fans the most comfortable would be Canadian international Milan Borjan, late of Turkey's Sivasspor. He's a talented 'keeper who could hold down a backup role well for a squad like Napoli. However, Italy's limitations on how many non-EU players can be acquired in a season would likely not allow Napoli to sign him, as Serbia's up-in-the-air status with the EU would keep him from using his birth country to qualify.

Wiese seems like the most realistic and likely option at first glance. No matter who Napoli go with, they need to make their decision soon.

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