Interesting news is coming out of Italy and the Netherlands, as Napoli and Ajax are reported to have come to terms on a deal for the partenopei to sign striker Arkadiusz Milik. Player and club are also believed to have agreed to terms on a five-year contract, and he’s expected in Italy for a medical on Thursday to finalize the deal.
The value of the transfer varies from report to report, with Dutch media generally calling it a €35 million transfer, while Italian sources say the fee is €25 million plus another €5 million in “difficult to reach” bonuses. As always, the truth lies somewhere in the middle, but that’s a fairly significant fee for a player that many Napoli fans won’t be terribly familiar with.
Milik, 22, is a Poland international who played a big role for his country at Euro 2016. He scored a goal and bagged an assist in his five matches, and he was successful both times he was called on in penalty shootouts. Despite that quality, though, many fans will remember him more for a couple of crucial missed goals thanks to a shaky finishing touch.
While his finish is definitely a weakness at this point in Milik’s game, that’s actually not a big deal when you look at the big picture. He has the same drive and work rate that made Edinson Cavani so good and the technical skills to back that up, as well as a desire to help the team creatively. His finishing is his only big weakness at this point in his development — and at Milik’s age, that’s something you can teach and fix and improve.
What you can’t fix is work rate and effort, but that’s not something Milik has a problem with. That’s in stark contrast to Mauro Icardi, another Napoli transfer target, who has finishing quality in spades but rarely gets himself into positions to utilize it effectively because he’s so static and ineffective off the ball. Milik, though, never stops fighting and working and running and trying to find spaces, which is how he scored 21 Eredivisie goals for Ajax last season. Scoring in the top Dutch league isn’t that big a feat, but scoring that many goals with an undeveloped finish is pretty impressive. Just imagine what he can do with a manager who can help improve him!
Regardless, this is a very high-potential signing for Napoli, and one that fans should be happy about. It’s a risk because of the fee, but Milik’s skill is significant enough to make the risk one well worth taking. Will he replace Gonzalo Higuain? Maybe, maybe not. But Napoli’s budget is high enough that signing Milik for the reported fee doesn’t keep them from signing another, more impact-ready striker if they so choose — or on spending a bunch of money on other positions of need.