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Player Focus: Simone Verdi

A closer look at Napoli’s forgotten number 9

SSC Napoli v US Sassuolo - Serie A Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

Napoli winger and Serie A journeyman Simone Verde has played for 8 clubs in his career at the age of just 26. Since joining the Partenopei in the summer, Verdi has hardly been a regular for Ancelotti but has nonetheless been a solid contributor when called upon. Here’s a closer look at the winger’s career so far and how he fits in with Napoli going forward.

AC Milan v Legnano - Preseason Friendly
Verdi making a rare appearance for the first team during a preseason friendly match in 2015
Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Verdi came through the youth ranks of Milan but was never able to break into the first team. In 2011 Verdi moved to Torino in a co-ownership deal and during his 4 years with the club was subsequently loaned out to Serie B sides Juve Stabia and Empoli. Verdi returned to Milan in 2015 after his boyhood club won him in a blind auction. Unfortunately his second stint with Milan was no more successful than his first and was once again loaned out to multiple clubs. A day before his 24th birthday, Verdi finally found a landing spot in Serie A joining Bologna. His first season with the Rossoblu was a success but it wasn’t until his second season where he really began to shine. Verdi appeared in 34 of Bologna’s 38 matches and racked up an impressive 10 goals and 10 assists during the course of the campaign. His stellar performances even drew the attention of Italy manager Gian Piero Ventura and Verdi made his debut with the national team in 2-1 friendly loss to the Netherlands.

Italy v Netherlands - International Friendly
Verdi makes his debut for the Azzurri
Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Verdi’s impressive season with Bologna also clearly earned him the respect of Carlo Ancelotti who brought him to Napoli on a 5-year 25 million euro signing. It was unclear how exactly he would fit into the side and he began his career with Napoli sitting on the bench for the first two matches of the season against Lazio and Milan. He was finally named in the starting lineup in the match against Sampdoria in early September. Unfortunately, this was a debut to forget as Napoli went down 2-0 in 32 minutes and Verdi was subsequently subbed off at half. Verdi had to wait again for his next chance to play and was back in the starting lineup against his former club Torino. This time, Verdi did not disappoint and was rewarded in the 54th minute when he impressively finished off a one-two with Mertens to score his first goal for Napoli. Verdi produced a number of solid performances in September and October but pulled up with a thigh injury just 4 minutes into the game against Udinese on October 22nd. Verdi missed the next nine games before finally seeing the field against Bologna in the last game of 2018.

Verdi’s season with Napoli has been disappointing so far in that injury struck just when he was starting to find his footing with the team. Nevertheless, if his career has taught us anything it’s that sometimes it’s perfectly fine to be a late-bloomer.