At this point in the season, it's no secret that Marek Hamšík has struggled for much of the campaign. Despite all the optimism and hope that this could be the year for the Slovakian playmaker, the one that firmly entrenched him as a first-class player in world football, this season has been anything but, and the frustration is starting to mount.
Hamšík has struggled for both form and fitness this season, with a layoff of over a month for a foot injury setting off an extended run of form that's generally varied between mediocre and downright terrible. With the exception of a few matches (Roma, Juve, and Torino), he's generally been listless and prone to being largely uninvolved for long stretches of matches.
The poor form have understandably left the fanbase a little restless where Hamšík is concerned. Many are wondering if he should be sold this summer to allow the club to invest extra funds in their retooling effort we're sure to see, as many fear his value decreasing if this poor form continues. Whether or not his value has actually held through this poor spell (for the record, right now I doubt he fetches the €35 million or more that many seem to expect) is one thing, but now some are starting to raise larger, more inflammatory questions.
Those questions have to do with Hamšík's status as a player at the club, specifically as to whether or not he's actually needed at Napoli any longer. One writer has gone so far as to call him "surplus to requirements" , which is a painfully ludicrous notion.
The train of thought goes something like this: Hamšík has been in poor form. Fine, hard to deny. The likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Jose Callejon, and Dries Mertens have provided surprising creative quality in the final third. Again, fine and dandy. The addition of Jorginho to the deeper parts of midfield has further increased Napoli's creative talents. Sure, no problems so far. Those three factors combined mean that Hamsik is no longer vital for the club and is a luxury for the lineup to carry.
Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa. Hold up now. Slow your roll. What?
Hamšík is not a luxury player. He's not an extra passenger that the squad doesn't need to be successful. Yes, the team can succeed without him, but get him playing right and ticking along as we know he can with THIS group around him? Holy buckets of crap this attack could be unstoppable.
We got a glimpse of that early this season while the side was still gelling. Before he hurt his foot against Parma, Hamšík, Higuain, and company were tearing teams apart, and our spiky-haired Slovakian was a key figure in the massive win against Borussia Dortmund in October. He's been at the heart of this club for years, and a few bad months is no reason to throw that away.
The simple fact of the matter is that Napoli don't just need to get deeper, they need to get better. Selling Hamšík would certainly give them more money to work with towards that goal, but the fact is that it's extremely unlikely they'd be able to get another player at his position that would be a clear-cut upgrade to Hamšík without spending more money than they get for him. Probably a lot more, given the price the likes of Mesut Özil went for last summer.
Instead of casting off one of their best players, what Napoli need to do is find a way to fix whatever's gone wrong for Hamšík these past few months. Maybe something needs to change in training. Maybe his foot injury isn't actually fully healed yet. Maybe he just needs a better backup than Goran freaking Pandev to allow for better rotation. Whatever the solution is, it will be far better for Napoli to do that in both the short and long term rather than spend a lot of money on another player who may not work as well with this squad as we know Marek can.
Bottom line, Marek Hamšík is vital for this squad, no matter what a few over-reacting writers may tell you. An unfortunate run of form aside, this team is better with him than without, and there's no fiscal sense in trying to replace him. Unless someone comes along with a pants-on-head-insane offer (i.e. Cavani money), there's no sense at all in selling Hamšík. He's not surplus in any way. He's Marek Hamšík, for crying out loud.