When you think of recent Napoli club legends, you think of names like Hamsik,. Cavani. Lavezzi. Maggio. Calaio. And Cannavaro.
Unfortunately for Paolo Cannavaro, that status didn't prevent an acrimonious split between he and manager Rafa Benitez, one that the defender wishes had gone better than it did. "I had hoped that the farewell from Napoli would be another way, that was not possible," he told online publication Tiki Taka. "I was not given the chance, but I am okay, I am satisfied."
The whole drama was painful to watch unfold. It became unfortunately clear very early in Rafa's tenure that he didn't rate Cannavaro as highly as his predecessor Walter Mazzarri had, and that the Naples-born defender didn't really fit in to his plans moving forward. Despite the uproar that decision created, it's not hard to understand why Rafa felt that way; Cannavaro's form had dropped precipitously over the past two seasons, and he wasn't showing any real indication of a turnaround.
With Raul Albiol and a seemingly better-than-ever Federico Fernandez in tow, minutes were harder than ever to come by for Cannavaro in the first half of this season, and even when Fernandez wasn't playing Miguel Britos was the preferred defender to take his place. When Cannavaro did play, the results were rarely pretty, highlighted by his disastrous 26 minute spell after coming on at halftime against Roma that saw him sent off for a second yellow card after a series of clumsy challenges.
That lack of playing time lead to a lot of complaining in the media from Cannavaro and his agent, and it wore thin quickly. A split seemed inevitable, and despite his agent talking up moves to Inter or Parma or even Lazio of all places, the team that took Cannavaro on was lowly Sassuolo at the winter transfer deadline, sending the veteran defender in to the teeth of a relegation battle.
He's done decently with Sassuolo, though he was involved in the blame for both goals Napoli scored against his new club in February. They've won just two of the eleven matches he's played, though, and while they're only four points from freedom with five matches to go, Sassuolo seem almost a lock to go down to Serie B.
No matter the result of that relegation scrap, though, we've got one more round to go with Cannavaro and Napoli. His loan expires at the end of the season, and his contract with the partenopei runs for another season. Despite that remaining tie, we've certainly seen the last of Canna in Napoli azzurri, and hopefully this time the separation goes more smoothly.