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Napoli announce squad list for Champions League qualifier

Harold Cunningham

Napoli have submitted the list of players eligible for UEFA competition -- or, at least, a list of those permitted to play in their first stop in Champions League, the tie against Athletic Bilbao. It's a list that is sure to get tongues a'wagging and rumors a'swirling:

Goalkeepers: Rafael, Andujar.

Defenders: Zuniga, Henrique, Albiol, Mesto, Koulibaly, Ghoulam, Britos, Maggio.

Midfielders: Jorginho, Inler, Dzemaili, Gargano, Radosevic, Hamsik.

Attackers: Callejon, Mertens, Insigne, Michu, Duvan, Higuain.

Take a look. Notice who's missing? Goran Pandev, Edu Vargas and Federico Fernández. The first omission is not too worrisome: with the addition of Michu and the improvement of Duván Zapata, there's really no place left for Pandev.

But then there's Vargas. The Chilean has made few appearances for Napoli, having spent most of his time on loan since the club bought him in January 2012. However, many had hoped that after a great World Cup and a few decent showings in friendlies, the winger would be sticking around. Looks like that's not the case.

The final, and most depressing, exclusion is that of Fernández. Now, it took the defender some time to find his footing, but regular play last season helped him become not-nearly-so-terrifying at the back. The purchase of Kalidou Koulibaly, and the way he's impressed since joining, means it's likely the 23-year-old would be paired with Raúl Albiol, leaving Fernández on the bench.

Yet a team aiming for the scudetto (hopefully) and competing in the Champions League (please God) needs depth, and needs to be able to convince guys like Fernández to stick around. Because those of us watching the PSG friendly are absolutely terrified of what might happen should Miguel Britos wind up defending in a match that actually means something.

There's also a few surprise inclusions on the list. Well, ok, there's one surprise inclusion on the list. For those of us who hoped there was a move for Walter Gargano lined up, but just being kept quiet, we're likely to be disappointed. The midfielder is included on the list of eligible players.