Dear Maurizio Sarri,
It's good to have you in Naples! It seems like you're the right man to lead Napoli right now, a calming presence after a couple years of not-calm. I dig your tactics too, watching the team grow in them should be quite fun.
But I wanted to take a minute to talk to you about something. Someone, actually: Eduardo Vargas.
Yes, that kid you've been enjoying watching emerge as the top scorer of the Copa America -- no easy feat with guys like Lionel Messi around -- is all kinds of run. Just dripping with talent, right? I bet you've been watching that wanting to get him in to your system, because the way Chile's midfield links up with the attack is very similar to yours and oh man that could be something to see.
Guess what? You're in luck.
You see, Vargas is actually a Napoli player. I know, right? Surprising! He hasn't suited up for a game in a Napoli shirt in a few years now, but thanks to the magic of player loans, he's still very much a Napoli player. Despite his last two Napoli managers not caring about him enough to even bother giving him a real chance with the club, he's still done well for himself.
The 25 year old Chilean did quite well in his first loan away from Napoli, with Gremio in Brazil. While his overall goalscoring numbers don't necessarily stand out, he quickly became a fan favorite with the Brazilian club, and was regarded as one of the better players in both the team and the league, especially during Gremio's Copa Libertadores run.
The same happened with Valencia 18 months ago: as a midseason newcomer, it took him time to bed in to the side and start scoring, but once he did get comfortable with his new team, good lord did he make an impact. Five goals and four assists in all competitions is pretty dang good for a guy who showed up mideseason with almost three months' time off after the end of the Brazilian season. Especially when you consider that Vargas was a main focus of the squad by the end of the season, especially in their run to the Europa League final, it's hard to be disappointed with what he did.
Vargas' time at Queens Park Rangers didn't go so well, with injuries and horrible misuse plaguing his time in England. His managers seemed to think that he could operate well as a false nine -- he can't -- or as a straight, run-down-the-flank-and-cross right winger -- he can't -- and that lack of proper utilization didn't really go so well for his performances. That time at QPR only amplified the "Vargas can't do it at club level" trope that's gone around, despite two years' worth of evidence to the contrary before that.
People even try to point to his time with Napoli as reason for that, to which any sane fan responds: what time at Napoli? Under Walter Mazzarri, he was never allowed to make a single start in the league, and most of his substitute minutes were so late in matches that he never could get time to get rolling. This despite him playing very well as a starter in the Champions League, scoring three goals in six matches even though he was usually the first guy Mazzarri took off the pitch.
It didn't get any better for Vargas under Rafa Benitez, who didn't even let him train with the first team after returning from Gremio. Benitez gave him a couple appearances in pre-season matches, in which Vargas looked quite good, but that apparently didn't matter to Benitez, despite Napoli having a need for another versatile attacker.
If anyone needs proof of just how good Vargas can be, all they need to do is look at how Jorge Sampaoli uses him. Perhaps the only manager left who actually understands and believes in Vargas, Sampaoli stick him up front and just gives him freedom to be. Vargas plays off Alexis Sanchez well, combines with the midfield well, and generally looks like an unholy terror, scoring fabulous goals and consistently shining as a top performer in a very good team. Use him right, and even at club level he can play that way. It's happened before, it can happen again.
Now, signore Sarri, it's time for you to learn from the mistakes of those who preceded you. Keep Edu Vargas. Make him happy. Use him right. Reap the rewards. For the sake of all of us, please don't screw this up.
The Siren's Song