Napoli raised some eyebrows on Sunday when Manolo Gabbiadini started the friendly match against Nice on the bench. He'd been a hot hand -- hot foot? hot hand always seems odd in the context of the sport -- during training and the earlier friendlies and was even listed in Napoli's initial starting lineup announcement, but Maurizio Sarri opted to start Jose Callejon instead.
That likely annoyed Gabbiadini to some extent, and it certainly fired up his agent, Silvio Pagliari, who took to the Naples airwaves on Tuesday to unleash on the club over the decision and threaten to force a move away from the club if such decisions persist:
Manolo is fired up and aware of how important the coming season is, because there’s the European Championships at the end.
In recent friendlies I’ve seen some rotation in attack, and that concerns me a little bit, because I wouldn’t want him sitting on the bench. The lad is respectful of the role he’s given, and I wouldn’t want him to always sit on the bench, if that’s the case it’s better they tell us now, given there’s a long way to go in the transfer window, and we can take away any issues.
After six months at Napoli, he’s proven his value and that cannot be called into question.
I know they were friendlies, but I’ve already told the club that the player is approaching an important season, and Napoli have already rejected big offers for the lad.
Gabbiadini scored 20 goals [in all competitions] last season, he deserves respect.
The added emphasis is our own, and man is it something. It should also be noted that this is Manolo's agent saying this, not Gabbiadini himself, and based on some of the phrasing involved, one would guess that his agent isn't simply regurgitating his client's frustrations, this is Pagliari himself talking of his own volition.
He does have something of a fair point -- Gabbiadini is probably Napoli's best non-Gonzalo Higuain striker, and deserves a ton of playing time because of it. Especially with the European Championships next summer, he's going to want as much playing time and as many chances to look good so he can make the Italian national team -- assuming they even make it, anyways.
But let's face facts: this was a friendly. A friendly. We're talkin' about a friendly. Allen Iverson references aside, Gabbiadini not starting it really isn't that big a deal. This was just Maurizio Sarri taking a chance to experiment with a different pairing than he'd used before. Gabbiadini still played a whole half of the match, so it's not like he hardly played at all. Pagliari is getting way too worked up about this, transfer threat and all, considering the circumstances. Once the season starts, with Napoli pushing for Serie A and Europa League glory, there's going to be plenty of playing time for Gabbi to be happy.
So no, there should be no concern about a forced transfer. No concern about Manolo not playing enough. This is just another case of an agent getting too damn uppity and worked up over nothing, as too many of them do too often. This guy and Lorenzo Insigne's agent both need to take a damn chill pill and relax.