Last summer was a pretty undeniably busy one for Napoli. Riccardo Bigon and his scouting staff were in overdrive scouting players and working on deals to bring in reinforcements for a rapidly-changing squad in the first year of Rafa Benitez' reign as manager of the club. On a whole, it was a successful summer, but now the challenge is to have another one.
In order to do that, Bigon wants to slow things down a tick. Fewer players are needed, but the right fit is more crucial than ever, so he wants to avoid rushing in to any moves and risk ruining what Napoli have built. With the World Cup slowing down the early part of the transfer window, that gives Bigon and his staff a good chance to sit down, more fully evaluate their targets, and plan out their moves.
"We are always working to improve with an eye to the future, we want to win things and create a competitive team," he said in an interview with Radio Kiss Kiss. "Instead of the age of any particular player, the most important aspect is to achieve targets and for players to have the motivation to put the [Napoli] shirt on with a lot of enthusiasm."
"We have more objectives and more opportunities but we will not rush," Bigon added. "The target is to always bring in important players who will improve our squad even more. [...] We will look to find the right player for the right position in our team. The market is long and we need to work without being in a rush."
It's also important to note that while transfer funds likely won't be too limited, they also won't have the massive sale of Edinson Cavani to boost their coffers this summer. That makes the kind of smart buys that Bigon talks about and has done in the past even more important than it was last year. That means we'll likely see more Jorginho or Duvan Zapata type buys than Gonzalo Higuain's, as the club won't be able to spent €40 million on one player without blinking.
As far as deals in progress, Bigon only pulled the curtains back a little bit in his interview "Even back in January we were very excited to be getting [Mariano] Andujar, now it’s the same for [Kalidou] Koulibaly even though we haven’t officially confirmed his arrival," Bigon said, revealing nothing that we didn't already know. Andujar's deal was tied up back in January, though as he was immediately loaned back to Catania he'll still be like a new signing this summer, and could easily serve as Rafael Cabral's backup if that's what Bigon and Benitez are comfortable with.
We already knew that the Koulibaly deal was basically done, but with the way Bigon referred to it, it sounds like we're just waiting on the club to officially announce it, which will likely happen as soon as the international transfer window opens up on July first.
This is a drum that has been banged frequently here of late, but it's going to be banged one more time today: Riccardo Bigon has done one heck of a job since joining Napoli's staff as Sporting Director in 2009. He doesn't get near as much credit as he deserves, and the club and fans are very, very lucky to have him.